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FEBRUARY 2010 | VOLUME 4 | ISSUE 2

FEBRUARY 2010 | VOLUME 4 | ISSUE 2

NEWS, DATA, ANALYSIS AND STRATEGIC INSIGHTS FOR ARCHITECTS IN THE GCC

COLOURFUL KINGFISHER MEA meets up with Graeme Fisher, Godwin Austen Johnson’s youngest partner

ARCHITECTUR AL LIGHTING MEA explores the issue of lighting NEWS, DATA, ANALYSIS AND STRATEGIC INSIGHTS FOR ARCHITECTS IN THE GCC

to find out how ‘architectural’ it really is

M AGNIFICEN

T B E R I E H MUS

An ITP Business Publication

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Alumil Gulf fzc subsidiary of ALUMIL in the Middle East

Technology Park, RAK FTZ, RAK tel +971 7 2444106, fax +971 7 2444107 email support.uae@alumil.com


CONTENTS FEBRUARY

FEBRUARY 2010 VOLUME 4 ISSUE 2 23

29

9

02 WHAT’S ON THE WEB

MEA keeps you in touch with the latest news from the industry with a synopsis of Construction Week online

07 INDUSTRY HIGHLIGHTS 13 GREEN PAGE: ZIGHI BAY

A roundup of some of the industry’s biggest stories

Sustainable architecture, local materials and a bespoke eco-friendly design. Oman’s Zighi Bay is one that’s doing it right

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16 INTERVIEW: GRAEME FISHER

Godwin Austen Johnson’s youngest partner talks about sustainability, Sasha & the Sultan of Brunei

23 CASE STUDY: KAIG

The design for the King Abdullah International Gardens has been completed

29 FEATURE: LIGHTING PART 2

A detailed discussion on whether lighting can be considered ‘architectural’ or not

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35 FEATURE: QATAR PROJECTS

Magnificent Musheireb: the former Heart of Doha project has a brand new Qatari identity

41 CASE STUDY: RUGBY 7S STADIUM 44 SKETCHBOOK 48 LAST WORD: JAMES ABBOTT Creating a world-class stadium from scratch

A look at James Law’s Technosphere

Director of P&T Architects and Engineers of Dubai talks about safeguarding intellectual property

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ONLINE

the online home of:

IN PICTURES

MOST POPULAR

•RTA allocates US$2 billion for projects

•Vision wins Saudi Arabian MEP job •Kuwait, Qatar join tall building trend •Plant theft ring busted in Sharjah For breaking news, go to: www.constructionweekonline.com/news/ Stories selected January 27-31, 2010

THE PARK AT BURJ KHALIFA

EDITOR’S CHOICE • KSA’s Hajj terminal wins AIA 25-year award

The 11-hectare The Park at the foot of the Burj Khalifa is irrigated using a unique water collection system that recovers the condensation from the building’s cooling equipment.

• UAE developer sets sights on

For more galleries, check out: www.constructionweekonline.com/in_pictures/

• Façade design creates new landmark

COLUMNS & FEATURES SEALED

STORM MACHINE

The opening of the renamed Burj Khalifa was nothing short of spectacular, and it marks a tangible move towards a clearer, more federal model.

There has been some pretty wild speculation about the physical properties of the super-tall Burj Khalifa, and the so-called ‘storm effect’. What are the facts?

BIG RELIEF

INFRASTRUCTURE DOLLARS

CONRAD EGBERT, EDITOR, CONSTRUCTION WEEK

SELINA DENMAN, EDITOR, COMMERCIAL INTERIOR DESIGN No one’s sorry to see the back of 2009. For the region’s interior design industry, it was a year steeped in a series of serious setbacks.

GREG WHITAKER, EDITOR, PMV MIDDLE EAST

STUART MATTHEWS, SENIOR GROUP EDITOR Announcements of infrastructure projects are once again being heralded, and Dubai’s 2010 budget will have an infrastructure focus.

For more columns & features, go to: www.constructionweekonline.com/comments

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Georgia

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• Dubai architect gets nod for AIA • Green isn’t everything, says Arthesia

Stories selected January 27-31, 2010

SPOT POLL: Where will you make the most money this year?

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To vote in spot polls, go to: www.constructionweekonline.com


EDITOR’S LETTER

DON’T ASK WHY, DIVERSIFY Registered at Dubai Media City PO Box 500024, Dubai, UAE Tel: 00 971 4 210 8000 Fax: 00 971 4 210 8080 Web: www.itp.com Offices in Dubai & London

N

apoleon Hill – father of the ‘personal success literature’ genre and presidential advisor to Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt – once said, “Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune or temporary defeat.” Although Hill was born in America in 1883 and most likely never travelled outside the country, his message seems to have transcended time, culture and geography to find itself alive and well in the 21st Century Middle East. Hill’s message is the same advice my father used to give me after I’d fall off my bike, “Get up, dust yourself off, get back on and ride faster this time.” Well, in the wake of the credit crisis, its safe to say that the Middle East – and the rest of the world – most definitely fell off its bike. I’m very happy to say that it seems like we’re beginning the slow process of dusting ourselves off, despite economists and pundits predicting something called a ‘double-dip’ recession. But this time, how do we ride faster? Certainly not by throwing our time, effort and fortunes into the same development schemes that proved so fragile the first time. So, how do we ride faster? The answer: diversify. This is ‘Economics 101’ for most people familiar with personal investment. Diversification reduces risk, provides stability and, with any luck, long-term profitability...yada...yada...yada. But what I’m suggesting is diversification on a regional scale. If you look around, you’ll see its already happening. Take Godwin Austen Johnson, for example (this month’s main Q&A). It is one of the largest and most established international practices in Dubai and yet its focus has shifted to North Africa. In fact, the practice boasts major projects in almost every country in the Maghreb as well as Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Gensler is one of the world’s largest architecture practices. Its projects span six continents, yet in the middle of the global credit crisis it closed its Dubai doors, launched an office in Abu Dhabi and has since put ‘business development’ at the forefront of its initiatives in the MENA. At the time of writing, Gensler is responsible for a massive waterfront project (Saphira Waterfront) which spans 11km along the Moroccan coast and two major mixed-use projects in Makkah. Regional diversification isn’t just limited to architects either. Home-grown developer Emaar made a killing on the ‘masterplanned lifestyle community’ and, after unprecedented success in Dubai, has since brought the typology to Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Syria and Turkey – to name a few. Qatari Diar, which has been extremely insular in its business dealings in the past, has looked as far afield as Morocco, Egypt, Sudan, Syria and Yemen over the past 12 months. And, one of the UAE’s most diverse property developers, Bukhatir Group, launched its fourth ‘Sport City’ development in Tunis in mid2009 and is currently considering North Africa and Southeast Asia for its fifth. Napoleon Hill encouraged his readers to look past misfortune – to cast aside what seems like defeat – to find the opportunity waiting to be seized. In much less eloquent terms, my father urged me to get back on that bike and ride faster. Whether you listen to the wisdom of my dad or Napoleon Hill, the time for action has come. Don’t ask why, diversify.

ITP BUSINESS PUBLISHING CEO Walid Akawi Managing Director Neil Davies Deputy Managing Director Matthew Southwell Editorial Director David Ingham VP Sales Wayne Lowery Publishing Director Jason Bowman EDITORIAL Senior Group Editor Stuart Matthews Group Editor Jeff Roberts Tel: +971 4 435 6269 email: jeff.roberts@itp.com ADVERTISING Publishing Director Jason Bowman Tel: +971 4 435 6344 Commercial Director Raz Islam Tel: +971 4 435 6371 email: raz.islam@itp.com Sales Manager Carolyn Lewis Tel: +971 4 435 6184 email: carolyn.lewis@itp.com STUDIO Group Art Editor Daniel Prescott Art Editor Simon Cobon PHOTOGRAPHY Director of Photography Sevag Davidian Chief Photographer Khatuna Khutsishvili Senior Photographers G-nie Arambulo, Efraim Evidor, Thanos Lazopoulos Staff Photographers Isidora Bojovic, George Dipin, Lyubov Galushko, Jovana Obradovic, Ruel Pableo, Rajesh Raghav PRODUCTION & DISTRIBUTION Group Production Manager Kyle Smith Production Coordinator Louise Schreiber Distribution Manager Karima Ashwell Distribution Executive Nada Al Alami CIRCULATION Head of Database & Circulation Gaurav Gulati MARKETING Head of Marketing Daniel Fewtrell ITP DIGITAL Director Peter Conmy Internet Applications Manager Mohammed Affan Internet Design Manager Hitesh Uchil Web Designer Meghna Rao ITP GROUP Chairman Andrew Neil Managing Director Robert Serafin Finance Director Toby Jay Spencer-Davies Board of Directors K M Jamieson, Mike Bayman, Walid Akawi, Neil Davies, Rob Corder, Mary Serafin Circulation Customer Service Tel: +971 4 435 6000 Certain images in this issue are available for purchase. Please contact itpimages@itp.com for further details or visit www.itpimages.com Printed by Emirates Printing Press L.L.C. Dubai Subscribe online at www.itp.com/subscriptions The publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for error or omissions contained in this publication, however caused. The opinions and views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on information contained in this publication which is provided for general use and may not be appropriate for the reader’s particular circumstances.

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RECEIVE EVERY MONTH! TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE MAGAZINE, PLEASE VISIT: W W W.ITP.COM/SUBSCRIPTION Cover image: DohaLand’s Musheireb project.

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INDUSTRY HIGHLIGHTS

ATKINS APPOINTED TO CREATE UAE’S FIRST EHS DEPARTMENT FOR AL AIN MUNICIPALITY AL AIN, UAE // Global design

and engineering consultancy Atkins has signed a contract with Al Ain Municipality to establish the UAE’s first Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) department for building and construction. The new EHS department seeks to ensure that effective EHS management systems (EHSMS) are implemented on construction sites within the eastern regions of Abu Dhabi by 2012. The key aims for the project include safer work places, healthy working environments, minimising pollution waste and delivering sustainable lifestyle and development. Created in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Municipality (ADM), and under the umbrella of the Department of Municipal Affairs

(DMA), Al Ain’s new environmental management system aims to oversee the massive development predicted for Al Ain, while also providing the burgeoning township with a degree of autonomy. “The fundamental goal of the EMS is to ensure healthy and safe working conditions in the construction sector in Al Ain, and to develop an effective administrative system for environmental, health and safety regulations, as well as to help the sector entities in Al Ain to develop their own systems in this area,” explained Rowda Al Saadi, manager of the infrastructure and service coordination division within Al Ain muncipality. “This is a landmark project for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the UAE,” added Atkins’ project director Abdullatif Merii at the signing ceremony. “Al Ain Municipality has taken the bold step to lead the

way in assisting contractors… to develop construction site management systems that will safeguard people and the environment.” Perfectly aligned with Estidama and the vision for Al Ain outlined in Plan Al Ain 2030, according to Merrii, the project’s mandate is quite straightforward: “The application of the EHSMS will raise awareness of environmental aspects that stem from construction activities, ultimately improving

humanity’s situation within the environment without upsetting the balance.” Directly linked with the Abu Dhabi and Western Region municipalities, “The joint initiative is very much in line with the municipality’s goal of encouraging the establishment of strategic partnerships between the public and private sectors to improve ‘efficiency and accountability towards progress’,” read a prepared statement from ADM. According to HE Dr Matar Al Nuaimi, GM of Al Ain Mu-

nicipality, the creation of the EHS department was a crucial next step for a city that aims to have a million residents—and the infrastructure to support them—by 2030. “[The initiative] also reflects the project as being one of the most basic components of the political agenda of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, [and] is a top priority for the Environmental Agency’s strategy, which was adopted by the Executive Board for the period from 2008-2012,” explained Al Nuaimi.

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INDUSTRY HIGHLIGHTS

DOHALAND LOOKS TO ENGAGE YOUNG QATARI ARCHITECTS

‘This sets a direction and a vision for the future of Qatari architecture’

DOHALAND LOOKS TO ENGAGE BURGEONING QATARI ARCHITECTS DOHA, QATAR // DohaLand recently sponsored a professorship at Qatar University in an effort to begin teaching students of architecture and urban planning the modern Qatari architectural language that will be employed in the 35-hectare Musheireb project. In an irony not lost on building professionals or journalists, the design competition for Musheireb -- which called for an architecture that would embody Qatari sensibilities and identity -- saw 100 regional and international firms

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whittled down to 11 finalists, none of which were Qatari. “DohaLand is the answer to Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned’s initiative to close a gap. The gap is an architectural language and a national identity that we’ve lost,” explained Eng. Issa M. Al Mohannadi, CEO of DohaLand. “In the 1960s and 70s, we started to import architecture. It is wrong to import a style that doesn’t fit.” Al Mohannadi continued: “In my opinion, those building were designed wrong. As

a society, we cannot accept ‘fast food’ solutions for our homes or buildings. We can’t blame anyone; we chose to eat this fast food. Buildings should be adapted and developed to fit our needs. “We don’t claim that we’ve found the perfect solution in Musheireb, which is one interpretation of how to modernise architecture without sacrificing identity.” Despite winning the competition to design the master plan and several buildings within the Musheireb development, Allies and Morrison principal Tim Makower is

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fully supportive of the idea of educating young Qatari students to pick up where the international firms will ultimately leave off. “It’s the beginning of a very interesting conversation,” said Makower of the potential for a ‘contemporary Qatari architecture’ course at Qatar University. “This sets a direction and a vision for the future of Qatari architecture.” According to Al Mohannadi, the point of the chair at the university is not to advance a specific architectural style, but aims to interact

with students, expose them to the DohaLand philosophy, and thereby allow them to nurture and develop the ideas that will ultimately become the Qatari architecture of the future. “We do not claim to be the only solution there is,” said Al Mohannadi. “We simply hope that our vision will inspire more research. We are a starting point.” Asked whether or not this initiative signalled the end of shiny ‘blue glass’ architecture in Qatar, Mohannadi replied simply: “I certainly hope so.”


INDUSTRY HIGHLIGHTS

BURJ NOT A ‘STORM MACHINE’, SAYS HYDER DUBAI, UAE // Hyder Consulting has denied claims that the Burj Khalifa could be a ‘storm machine’, despite recent speculation. Various architectural blogs have claimed that the temperature at the pinnacle of the Burj Khalifa is eight degrees lower than at the base, which could ultimately lead to the collapse of the building. One German newspaper said that if a door was opened at the top of the building and at the podium level, as well as air locks in between, a storm could rush through the tower and destroy everything in its wake. John Mills, project director for Hyder, the design consultant for the Burj, said the effect described by the paper was genuine, but there is no cause for concern. “It is called a ‘stack effect’. Hyder has carried out separate research to try to harness the power which could be generated by this,” he said. “The effect has been recognised on the Burj Khalifa and engineered out using air locks, which cannot be opened continuously.” The world’s tallest tower has also been tested against severe wind conditions, according to Mills. “Extensive wind tunnel testing took place during design and construction. Hyder also instigated physical building movement testing during construction, verifying correctly the designed building behaviour.”

J/BRICE TO PUT SIGNATURE ON AL KHOBAR AL KHOBAR, KSA // The US

The so-called ‘stack effect’ will not have an impact at Burj Khalifa

architect and design firm J/ Brice Design International has been awarded its second major real estate design contract in Saudi Arabia in the form of a 120-villa project in Al Khobar, centre of the Saudi oil industry. The developer of the project, Al-Othman Holding Company, last year selected J/Brice to design and manage the interiors of the Al Khobar Hotel and Office Towers, a US$300 million project. “We based our decision on our personal knowledge of Jeff’s [Jeff Ornstein, J/ Brice CEO and founder] vision, commitment, and demonstrated ability to weave together Arabian motifs with an international style that is impressive to both Saudis and guests of the Kingdom,” said the developer’s CEO Mohammed Abdullah Al Othman. “We are honoured to have won the trust of our hosts in Saudi Arabia,” responded Ornstein, who founded J/ Brice Design two decades ago in Boston, and has since expanded into the Middle East with regional offices in Al Khobar. “Today the West turns to the Arab world for inspiration, not the other way around. Jeff’s ability to create spaces that are centered on the experience of the occupants, rather than on the architecture of the building, as well as his unique and distinctive personal vision is a great recipe for success in the region,” added Al Othman’s business development manager Walid A. Al Dubaikel.

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INDUSTRY HIGHLIGHTS

DEWAN BAGS KSA DESIGN CONTRACT RIYADH, KSA // Dewan

Architects & Engineers celebrated the launch of its new office in Riyadh with the announcement of a contract to design and supervise the overall construction of a 28floor commercial tower in Al Khobar. The contract was awarded by Amlak Sheikh Abdulrahman and Sheikh Sulayman, sons of the family-owned Abdullah Al Reziza Group of companies. A statement from Dewan said the tower on the Khobar-Damman road will be an architectural landmark. It will have 28 floors of office space, retail outlets on the ground and mezzanine floors, and parking on two basement and four upper mezzanine podium floors. “This tower represents a new addition to the rapid development of Dewan as it diversifies into new markets,” said the firm’s founder and MD Mohamed Al Assam. “It will be a great new addition to the modern architectural landscape in the Kingdom.” Dewan opened its first office in the UAE in 1976 and now boasts offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Riyadh, Doha, Baghdad, and Manila, employing more than 300 professionals in total. The firm was ranked 52 by Building Design World Architecture Magazine on its Top 100 list of design firms.

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Peyman Mohajer at the WFES

RAMBOLL WANTS TO MAKE OLD BUILDINGS GREENER ABU DHABI, UAE // Ramboll

Middle East will invest US $81,670 (AED 300,000) in researching new strategies to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings in the region. Speaking at the World Future Energy Summit in

Abu Dhabi, the engineering consultancy explained that the research will be available free of charge to aid Middle East residents in making their homes and offices more sustainable. “There are many developers in the region who use

Lord Richard Rogers

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sustainability ratings as a key pillar of their new projects. Yet it is wellknown that new buildings are greatly outnumbered by those already in existence,” said Ramboll Middle East MD Peyman Mohajer. “With this in mind,

Ramboll is committing to research into designing existing UAE buildings towards being carbon neutral,” announced Mohajer. Ramboll is collaborating with architects and contractors in the region to discuss future partnerships.

ROGERS LAUDS “INCREDIBLE” UAE ABU DHABI, UAE // Lord Richard Rogers of Riverside, Pritzker-Prize winner and the architect behind the Pompidou Centre in Paris and London’s Millennium Dome, has congratulated Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE for their urban development and foresight. Speaking at the World Future Energy Summit, Lord Rogers said he was “extremely impressed with this city – it has grown up from nothing in a short space of time and committed to sustainable plans.” Describing the UAE as

being at “a crosssroads between east and west, between north and south, and fully conscious of that,” Lord Rogers added that visiting the global summit – featuring some of the planet’s biggest names in sustainability and renewable energy – had been “a delight more than a business trip.” “I am immensely impressed that the UAE – a region empowered by fossil fuels – is the venue for such a major conference,” continued Lord Rogers. “It proves that the region really is looking to the future.”


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GREEN PAGES

OMANI THROUGH AND THROUGH SIX SENSES HIDEAWAY ZIGHI BAY IS PROVING THAT LUXURY RY AND E SUSTAINABILITY DO NOT HAVE TO BE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE

N The aim of Six Senses Zighi Bay is to blend in with its environment

estled in a hidden fold of Oman’s rugged Musandam region, Six Senses Hideaway Zighi Bay is quietly challenging traditional definitions of luxury. The resort, which recently celebrated its second anniversary, is a rare example of how high-end hospitality can seamlessly co-exist with social responsibility and environmental sensitivity. It is also an important example of how a design can embrace local influences and sustainable principles, without sacrificing on quality and, perhaps more importantly, economic viability.

A LOW PROFILE A key focus of the Six Senses Group is to create resorts that are in complete harmony with their environment and natural surrounding: “To blend in, not to harm or destroy any habitats, and to use local design, materials and craftsmanship,” noted Tara Hammond, environment and social responsibilities officer for Six Senses Hideaway Zighi Bay. Resort size, exact location, buildings, and topographic and thermal conditions, are carefully considered before a resort is built, and the company is constantly exploring ways to improve its carbon and water footprint.

“With this in mind, Six Senses Hideaway Zighi Bay was designed to blend in with the rugged natural surroundings of the Musandam region, combining the element of luxury to deliver a rustic chic decor. To do this, rather than using conventional materials, Six Senses opted for traditional ones such as date palms, limestone and timber, and used traditional building styles (wattle) to reflect the surrounding indigenous village style of the Omani Peninsula,” Hammond detailed. “The entire property is built using masonry walls which are left un-plastered, adding a rustic flavor. The interiors have stucco walls, mosaic floors created from pieces of local limestone and the villas are all fitted

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GREEN PAGES

Taking things one step further, the resort designed its own water-producing plants – thus eliminating the considerable and unnecessary carbon emissions created by the long-distance transport of bottled drinking water.

BUILDING SMILES

Six Senses Zighi Bay plants indigenous tree species and reuses water through reedbased biomimicry

with furniture constructed with wood (all made on-site by local craftsmen) and left unembellished to give a wholesome, organic and sustainable look,” she continued. The resort consists of a series of lowrise buildings set on an unadulterated bay flanked on all sides by a dramatic, jagged mountain-scape. A signature restaurant nuzzles into the mountain-side, some 293m above sea level. “The restaurant has been designed and constructed to blend in with the mountains without damaging the mountain rock and ruining the aesthetics or interfering with the biodiversity of the local environment. This gives guests a unique opportunity to experience a dramatic dining experience, yet without causing disturbance to the surroundings.”

THINK LOCAL Unsurprisingly, the company was committed to sourcing materials locally, to ensure that it was both supporting the local community and preserving indigenous architecture. The limestone used for the floors was extracted from the surrounding Hajar mountains, while date palms, known locally as ‘jareed’ were sourced from local plantations in Dibba. Materials that could not be found locally were sourced from neighbouring countries such as India, from responsible, certified suppliers. “I believe that only by sourcing and using these local materials were we able to really produce an authentic product for our guests,” said Hammond. The design is effortlessly Omani – ceilings are constructed in traditional flat-beamed style, and date palm lattices make up shutters, doors, partitions and roofs. These are entwined with ‘jareed’ to

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allow inside temperatures temperature to drop a few degrees, offering welcome welcom respite in the hotter summer months. In terms of landscaping, landscapin no trees or plants were removed during dur the construction of the resort. Instead, efforts were made to conserve the indigenous date palms, of which there are currently over 300 on site. “We also re-plant local indigenous trees such as the Sidr and Shakr, which require a minimum amount of water, and are suited for the arid climate of this region,” Hammond noted. Reiterating the company’s commitment to the environment, all water used on site is passed through an innovative reed bed and reused for flushing toilets and irrigating the landscape. “By use of this bimomimicry technique, we let nature do what it does best – take care of itself sustainably. This also improves water consumption, as waste water is reused to irrigate the landscape instead of using fresh water,” said Hammond.

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The resort’s social and environmental efforts did not end once the building was complete. A series of initiatives have been introduced since then, including the Build a Smile campaign. Currently in its second phase, ‘Build a Smile’ aims to renovate and rebuild 36 traditional houses in the neighbouring Zighy Bay Village over the next two years, in association with the Oman Ministry of Tourism. The resort is asking for guest volunteers to trade four hours of community work a day, in return for doubling their stay at the resort. During phase one of the project, construction and plastering was completed on 18 houses. Going into phase two, these homes will need to be painted and tiled whilst, at the same time, work needs to start on the final 18 houses. In addition to work on the villas, the plan is to implement a reed bed sewage treatment facility whereby waste water is treated naturally by the reed beds and subsequently used for irrigation purposes across the resort. While Six Senses Hideaway Zighi Bay proves that luxury and sustainability are not mutually exclusive, there are still very few similar examples on the market, Hammond admitted. “The approach is rare because no one believes it’s possible to combine the two without being coined as a “hippy eco lodge” and there is also a strong perception that there will be a low return on investment. Six Senses, however, has proved the opposite. “Enjoying the natural rugged beauty of Zighi Bay without creating artificially manicured lawns and putting pressure on scarce water sources in the region is just an example of how being environmentally friendly in the simplest form can work. “Luxury is not necessarily material possessions such as gold-plated marble bathrooms, but what busy city business people often lack – space and time. So by offering space in a natural environment and time to enjoy it guests get their luxury. When our competition catch on and see the success of our resorts I think this approach won’t be so rare anymore; it’s just a matter of time.”


INTERVIEW GRAEME FISHER

I THINK WE’RE VERY AWARE THAT YOU’RE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST PROJECT SO WE DON’T WANT TO START DROPPING ANY BALLS NOW.

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INTERVIEW GRAEME FISHER

COLOURFUL KINGFISHER

GODWIN AUSTEN JOHNSON’S YOUNGEST PARTNER, GRAEME FISHER, GAVE MEA A AN HOUR OF HIS TIME TO TALK ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY,

GYMNASTICS SASHA & THE SULTAN OF BRUNEI STRUCTURAL GYMNASTICS,

F

rom the tender age of 12, Graeme Fisher preferred the sharp edges and orthogonal lines of buildings and cityscapes to the blurred realism of flowing landscapes. Through the advice of his father, Fisher was able to mould his childhood passion for drawing and painting into a bona fide career choice by the time he was 16. Since then, he’s never looked back. “In fact, I can’t remember ever thinking that I didn’t want to do this,” he says. A scholastic career that included as many A-levels and honour rolls as socializing and sport, Fisher graduated from the University of Nottingham (UK) in 1995 torn between a desire to get straight into architecture and a burgeoning wanderlust. A decision to satisfy both passions landed Fisher in Brunei, despite his admitted inability to locate the Southeast Asian paradise on a map

at the time of his interview. Despite being unprepared for the massive relocation, Fisher’s abilities soon positioned him well in the firm, working for the country’s most discerning client: The Sultan. So there he was: 25 years old; a month out of university; working on commissions for the Sultan of Brunei and loving every minute. The fact he’s now a partner in one of Dubai’s most established and respected architecture firms begs a few questions….

what professional architecture was about. So, at the end of 1997, I went back to London and got a job with a large commercial practice called Sheppard Robson (SR), which is a great practice. When I joined, they were about 100 strong doing a lot of commercial and education work. I ended up being there for about nine years. I came through the ranks there. I was given some great opportunities there and I was made an associate in 2003.

You obviously found a good bit of success in Brunei. Why give it all up and return to the UK? My time in Brunei was both good and bad. The good aspect of that was that what we designed, pretty much got built. In fact, I designed a really large international school which was built within two years of me being there. So, by the age of 26, I had my first major project under my belt. That’s rare in this field. It was brilliant. But at the same time, I kind of felt that it wasn’t the real world and that I needed to get back to the UK and spend a period of time really practising and learning the essence of

Tell me about transitioning from London to Dubai. Was it easy? I was very happy in London but I was fortunate or unfortunate enough to marry an ex-pat’s daughter – my wife Sasha, who I met in Brunei – and she’d made it clear that she’d like to do what her parents had done and live abroad. I’d had some great experiences in London but I also was starting to think about being an ex-pat again. One cold morning in February 2006, we woke up freezing, and told ourselves that we needed to start thinking seriously about moving abroad. Within a couple of months, I’d come out here for some interviews.

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INTERVIEW GRAEME FISHER

– almost an impediment to design – and they try to keep the client very much on the periphery. When we take on any new job, whatever it is, the client is at the centre of everything we do. We’ll always approach every project with new ideas. The other thing we offer is a very good understanding of the culture and history of the region and problems faced here in the Gulf. Brian’s been here for 30+ years and the GAJ practice in Dubai is 21 years old. So we’re one of the largest and longest established UK practices here. We try to be cognizant of the local context and try to create design solutions that marry contemporary architecture and local influences. The other thing that makes us quite unique is that we are a British company but our headquarters are here in Dubai. We’ve got six people in the UK office and around 160 people in Dubai and Sharjah. In a way, we deliver the best of both worlds: Clients get the professionalism of an international practice but an international practice that calls the Gulf its home. I think that is one of the reasons why we’ve come through a very difficult year in pretty good shape. I’m not saying that we’re better than anyone else, in fact I think there is some fantastic work being done by firms throughout the region, but I’d like to think that we sit nicely amongst them. I’d like to think that we could work together with them. We’re never trying to aggressively outdo our rivals; we’re happy and self-confident in our work. We’re confident enough to not have to worry about rubbishing rivals or opposition – and that ethos comes from Brian.

Bab Al Shams is a gorgeous example of holistic sustainability

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THE PRACTICE Among all the options, why did you ultimately choose GAJ? Although I looked at some of the other larger practices in Dubai, I walked in to GAJ and met Brian Johnson [GAJ managing partner] and immediately something clicked. I think it was that GAJ has a great reputation for doing great, unique buildings. It doesn’t cater to the common masses. Brian always describes it as offering a one-off solution to the one-off client. The other thing about GAJ that appealed to me was that it wasn’t a polished diamond. It was certainly a diamond but it was a bit rough around the edges. I could see that Brian wanted to take it to the next level and that hugely appealed.

I chose GAJ because I thought, above everyone else, it was going places. In that respect it’s been a fantastic move. It was difficult to move from London because I enjoyed SR so much and I had a fantastic role there but, all things considered, it has been a great move and I can see that the practice has come a long way. We still have a long way to go; we’re still very ambitious about where we want to take the practice and how we develop what we offer – from both a business and design point of view – but I think certainly it’s moving in a really exciting direction. What does GAJ offer clients? We are extremely client-centric. Some companies see the client as an irritation

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I think GAJ stands out in people’s minds for some of its highprofile Dubai projects. A lot of people think of us as a Dubai practice and, of course, our headquarters are here but we’re also working in Abu Dhabi, Oman, Tunisia and Morocco. We’ve got two huge projects in Sharm El Sheikh and also a number of projects – as well as a small project office – in Libya. We’re making very good inroads into almost the whole of North Africa. We’re very excited about that. The GAJ philosophy has always been to grow slowly and responsibly – that’s another reason why we’ve done well in the past year. We could have fairly easily expanded to 300 people but that’s not the business model we want to use. We are diversifying. The great thing is, we sit here today and we’ve got a far more diverse portfolio of clients and projects


INTERVIEW GRAEME FISHER

than we did 12 months ago, which is great. There’s no arrogance there, we’ve had a tough year and we’re facing challenges in the coming years, but it’s nice to know that we’ve managed to diversify the brand over what was a very difficult year. What we want to do now is consolidate what we’ve learned and continue to grow, but in a contained way. We’re also looking at lateral opportunities within the company. We now have an in-house graphic design and corporate branding group as well as a small but flourishing structural department. It’s great for certain projects to keep the structural work in-house. We’re never going to be a huge multidisciplinary practice and we don’t want to be. In its quest to offer contextual architecture, how does GAJ avoid the kitschy and the pastiche? We really try to stay away from pastiche. We get some clients that really do want wind towers and slavish imitations of the past. In those instances, we make a conscious effort to show them how they can draw from the past without replicating it. We show them that the essence of a wind tower is natural ventilation and the essence of Arabic design is routed in the interplay of light and shade, particularly the need for shade. We wouldn’t necessarily reject the use of mashrabiya or Arabic geometry etc. In fact, we might draw very strongly upon them both to inform the way we plan a development or conceive vertical or horizontal patterning. I hate to see mashrabiya used for the sake of using them but I think it’s wrong to proclaim that they’re old hat and that we shouldn’t

SOME COMPANIES SEE THE CLIENT AS AN IRRITATION – ALMOST AN IMPEDIMENT TO DESIGN – AND THEY TRY TO KEEP THE CLIENT ON THE PERIPHERY. WHEN WE TAKE ON A NEW JOB, WHATEVER IT IS, THE CLIENT IS AT THE CENTRE OF EVERYTHING WE DO. be using them at all because they are at the heart of what identifies this region on many, many levels. I think you have to get under the skin of the essence of Arabic planning; the Arabic village. When you come from a European or American background, it’s all too easy to have everything axial. But when you walk around the Bastakiya, for example, you realise that things here aren’t historically built along axies. When we’re working on a hotel or resort plan, we’re not consciously wedded to strict orthogonal, more Western forms of planning. When I first got here, I had to re-educate myself to that. A lot of the master plan work we’re doing is also being generated by looking back at history, looking at timelines, looking to see if there is anything we can take from history that might have an influence on the design. We recently did a large master plan in Saudi Arabia and the design leader for that project looked at the timeline of Arabs and Arabia and drew some fascinating parallels about mathematics and astrology from that. That was a magnificent way of creating the story of the master plan. Ours is a unique approach for each project. Our clientele are just as pluralistic in their approach. Some clients might ask for a building that reflects Moroccan or Tunisian history, while others may want

something very modern and contemporary. We have to be cognizant of that. We don’t dismiss either of them. What would you dismiss? If someone comes to us and says they want a commercial tower that is 100% glazed, we would probably encourage them not to do that, and certainly not in this region. At the same time, if someone wanted us just to replicate the Al Aksari mosque in Iraq, we’d encourage them not to do that either. We’re trying to bring what we feel is the appropriate level of influence to each and every project. The other thing that I think we’ve always stayed away from – something for which Dubai was becoming known – is the structural gymnastics. Any developer obsessed with producing buildings more akin with complex pieces of sculpture are coming unstuck. Those buildings are twice as expensive to build and engineer and, because of the skewed nature of what was happening in the geometry of these designs, you were getting apartment layouts and floor plates which were hugely compromised. That is something that we’ve always rejected. It’s just not appropriate. If someone feels that those types of buildings are appropriate for the region, I’d like them to show me where they got that from.

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One of GAJ’s most recognisable projects: Dubai Creek Golf Club

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INTERVIEW GRAEME FISHER

The future of GAJ lies in its young stable of bright architects and design professionals

I HAVE STARTED TO REJECT THE NOTION OF COMPLICATED STRUCTURAL GYMNASTICS...WHAT WE’VE SEEN HAPPEN IN DUBAI OVER THE PAST YEAR HAS STRENGTHENED MY CONVICTION TO A MORE RATIONAL...APPROACH. THE CONTEXT What are your thoughts on some of Dubai’s architecture? The problem in Dubai is that, if you look at say Sheikh Zayed Road, you’ve got a load of skyscrapers that could have just been lifted from Europe or the USA or anywhere. So, in that respect, Dubai runs the risk of losing its cultural and national identity. Buildings, architecture and urban design can strongly influence a place and help it develop a sense of what it is and where it has come from. Dubai is a very young emirate in a very young country, but it is our mission to help the UAE ensure that what is built is appropriate and is a proper reflection of its society. I mean, in a very hot climate it’s inappropriate – it’s almost unethical – to produce buildings that are 100% glass. Sustainability is at the forefront of what GAJ does – I don’t mean necessarily active add-ons like PV panels and wind turbines – but if you look at a building like Bab Al Shams, for example, it’s a great and very

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appropriate example of sustainability that is contextual, passive and holistic. When he designed it, my fellow partner Keith Gavin looked at how people have built here for 100s of years and he drew upon the old building techniques to achieve that. Once you get under the surface of Bab Al Shams, there is a great story about appropriateness and local supply chains and something that is at one with its environment. Do you think Dubai has learned anything from the credit crunch? One positive that might have come out of what we’ve just been through with the economy is that developers might start rejecting those proposals with awkward, near impossible geometries and always associating the biggest with being the best. I believe that Dubai no longer wants to have a name for having brash architecture. I think we’re moving into a period of architecture in Dubai where things will be more considered and done a bit slower

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and that people will start to see the value of good design. I think Dubai – and designers as well – will come out of this with lessons learned and a sense of humility. Are places like Oman, Qatar and Abu Dhabi learning lessons from Dubai’s mistakes? I’m sure they are. I think Abu Dhabi has been learning lessons from Dubai for many years. There’s no doubt that there are plenty of lessons to be learned. It is fine to take chances and make mistakes but it’s wrong if you don’t learn from those mistakes. What I like about Abu Dhabi in particular is that they have their 2030 Plan. There is a lot of collaborative thinking there. You can see very clearly how Saadiyat Island joins up with Yas Island and how they relate to Abu Dhabi Island. There’s a cohesive master plan there that demonstrates a lot of collaboration. Yes, but is it realistic? It’s so ambitious. Will it all be delivered? Maybe not. It would be incredible if it was all delivered but at least it shows joined up thinking. One of the things that I’d like to think Dubai will do is examine all of these slightly disparate developments and create a plan. I’ve still not seen a cohesive master plan for the city of Dubai. I think if Dubai concentrates on the areas that are developed and functioning – Dubai


INTERVIEW GRAEME FISHER

Gehry. There was a whole group of architects in LA that I found incredibly exciting. Coop Himmelb(l)au was also a very big influence on me as a young architect. The LA architects and Coop Himmelb(l)au weren’t necessarily deconstructivist but certainly had alternative ways of thinking and approaching problems. Closer to home, I’ve always been influenced by Richard Rogers. He has always inspired me, as a person and an architect. The working ethos in his office is fantastic. He still has his desk in the office in the main studio. He’s developed this collective around him that believe in what he does and have been empowered in what they do as well. He’s been a huge influence on my career and an inspiration of where I want to go as a partner in the practice.

Marina and the financial districts are two examples – and learns from its own mistakes, it will be a magnificent place to live in the future. It still seems to be the city in the Gulf where people want to live and visit. Oman seems to be doing something very different… Oman has a slightly different agenda. They’re very much led by conservation of the old forts and what have you. That’s great. They understand the importance of heritage, perhaps more so than any other place in the region, and their development is much less brash, low density, virtually no high-rise, and you’ve got to admire them for that. In fact, when you’re building in Oman, the municipality is very insistent on protecting and preserving Omani – not Arabian, but Omani – heritage and rightly so. That in itself is a challenge to deliver something that is contemporary but still has the essence of Omani culture.

Has that changed as you’ve changed as an architect? I’ve almost come full circle in more recent years. I’m now more influenced by people with more rational approaches to architecture. I look to some of the people that have been in the field for a while and use materials in very beautiful ways. Sir David Chipperfield is probably one of my biggest influences. Rafael Moneo and the way in which he crafts stone in a contemporary way is something by which I’m influenced as well. My approach to architecture has taken on a more rationalist character. Perhaps that’s because I have started to reject the notion of complicated structural gymnastics. I think that what we’ve seen happen in Dubai over the past year has strengthened my convictions to a more rational, less is more approach.

What one building would you like to have been involved in? Probably the Pyramids. We still don’t know how they were built. I would love to have been involved with them on many levels: what they symbolized and the vastness of the structures. Also, just to know how they were built because clearly there are aspects of learning that were known then but have been lost. Without a single doubt, the Pyramids in Giza. What is the future of Graeme Fisher and Godwin Austen Johnson? I would like to think that I’ll be here for a good while yet. My wife is an artist and she found London difficult to break in terms of the art scene, it’s very cliquey. She’s very talented and she’s managed to create certain success here and we’re both very happy in our professional lives and we both really enjoy living in Dubai. So, right now, we couldn’t be happier...anywhere. Everyday at work is a new challenge but when I’m here, I’m just delighted to be here. For me, the future is within the region and with GAJ. We’ve come a long way in the three years since I’ve been here and we’ve still got a long way to go. I just know that I desperately want to be a part of that future growth – both in terms of developing our design output and in helping develop the business to where it needs to be. On that note, we need to continue to enhance the brand. I think we’re very aware that you’re only as good as your last project so we don’t want to start dropping any balls now. We’re constantly looking at ways that we can not only match clients’ expectations but exceed them.

Graeme Fisher had a big hand in GAJ’s new headquarters

THE MAN BEHIND THE WORK Who inspired you as a student? In the early 1990s, the practices that inspired most of my peers were those questioning aspects of modernism and aspects of hi-tech and were looking to refocus their design in a different direction. My influences at that time were certainly Morphosis, Eric Owen Moss and Frank

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CASE STUDY KAIG

BOTANICAL BUILDINGS UK CONSULTANTS LOOKING G TO BRE BREAK LD WITH KAIG K THE MOULD

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joint venture between British consultancies Barton Willmore and Buro Happold recently completed the design for the King Abdullah International Gardens (KAIG) – a giant botanical garden commissioned by the City of Riyadh as a gift to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to celebrate his accession to the throne. Taking a subtle new approach to the creation of a botanical garden in an arid

climate, KAIG aims to “explore, demonstrate and portray the great paleobotanical ages that have swept across this land.” In fact, the KAIG design and use of organic material is so cutting-edge that Barton Willmore and Buro Happold won an international competition in 2007 to claim the right to design it and now, having completed the design with advisors from the UK’s National History Museum and Eden Project, KAIG is about to go to tender.

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CASE STUDY KAIG

WORLD’S NOTABLE BOTANICAL GARDENS (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)

• Berlin Botanical Garden (Germany) – 3 million specimens • National Botanic Garden (Belgium) – 3.5 million specimens • Komarov Botanical Institute (Russia) – 7.2 million specimens • Kew Gardens (United Kingdom) – 7 million specimens • Harvard University Herbaria (USA) – 5 million specimens • New York Botanical Gardens (USA) – 7 million specimens • Missouri Botanical Garden (USA) – 5.8 million specimens • Royal Botanic Gardens (Melbourne) – 1.2 million specimens • Royal Botanic Gardens (Sydney) – 1 million specimens

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Barton Willmore provided master planning, architecture and landscape design services while Buro Happold provided project management services, structural and building services and infrastructure engineering design, as well as a range of specialist consultancy services. The JV team was also responsible for the design of KAIG’s infrastructure, which included earthworks, roads, footpaths, and coach and car parks, along with an energy centre, sewerage treatment systems and services such as electricity, telecoms, gas and water.


CASE STUDY KAIG

THE DESIGN OF KAIG HAS BEEN EXTREMELY CHALLENGING BECAUSE NOTHING AS COMPLEX HAS BEEN BUILT ON THIS SCALE AND IN THIS KIND OF ENVIRONMENT BEFORE. JERRY YOUNG

SUSTAINABILITY KAIG will be set within a 160-hectare site in an arid desert site within the KSA Central Region and, as a cornerstone of the City of Riyadh’s growth plans, will provide a new destination for KSA nationals and international visitors. Visitors will be able to walk amongst plants, trees and flowers which lived over 400 million years ago, as well as a range of external gardens which will include a maze, butterfly enclosure and aviary. “Indeed, this project epitomises our desire to marry manmade structures with the

natural environment and produce a broader narrative about their complex interrelationships over time,” explains Nick Sweet, project director and partner in charge of urban design at Barton Willmore’s London office. “I hope that KAIG will become a worldleading focus of mankind’s understanding of the process, consequence and study of climate change, capturing and displaying extraordinary ecotopes from history and from the present day, and presenting the choices that are available to us.” The project’s centrepiece will be a ‘paleobotanic’ building formed by two

adjoining crescents that will rise 40m in height. The building’s roof, which will be the largest ETFE-covered structure in the world, will span up to 90m. KAIG will also feature an array of specialist tensile, pneumatic and grid shell structures. KAIG will also showcase sustainable development by incorporating renewable and low energy technologies. It will employ thermal ice storage and black and grey water recycling systems, with underground reservoirs for storage and, with the outside temperature reaching up to 50°C, this approach will be vital to the

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KAIG will be set on a 160-hectare site

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CASE STUDY KAIG

Visitors will travel through the Devonian, Carboniferous, Jurassic, Cretaceous and Cenozoic gardens.

control of the different historical climates inside the various gardens. “KAIG is just one example of where we are working closely with a partner to create a new type of sustainable community,” explains Sweet.

FORM AND STRUCTURE The design of the main crescents utilised state-of-the-art 3D modelling and design tools, with the structures developed parametrically and optimised to suit both the structural and architectural constraints. “While we have extensive experience in the design and construction of cuttingedge projects in the Middle East,” says Jerry Young, project principal and partner at Buro Happold, “the design of KAIG has been extremely challenging because nothing as complex has been built on this scale and in this kind of environment before.” The base of the crescents is comprised of a series of 8m high reinforced concrete frames that vary between 55m and 75m in length. Each supports an overlying structural steel arch roof structure, which is broken into segments for thermal expansion. Both thermal expansion and long-term shrinkage effects were major considerations in the design, and considerable effort has been put into minimising the number of movement joints required. The main crescents will house an auditorium, VIP facility, ticketing buildings, a childcare facility and mosques. In addition, to provide amenities for visitors, six watch towers and five toilet buildings are included. The ticketing structures have structural steel umbrellas that support a fabric covering. These shade structures provide and impressive first impression to and are over 7m in

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height. Other buildings include a single storey management and maintenance facility, a nursery shade structure, a fire control centre, a 150m² energy centre, as well as external specialist garden spaces.

WALKING THROUGH TIME Starting in the Devonian period, when plants remained at knee height, visitors will travel through the Carboniferous, Jurassic, Cretaceous and Cenozoic gardens before reaching the riverbeds and light woodland of the Pliocene period. Finally, they will enter the ‘Garden of Choices’ where they will be presented with scenarios related to climate change and important choices necessary for the future. “The proposed master plan for the KAIG scheme presents the idea of a single, clearly understood, iconic form as the central defining feature of the scheme. The botanic garden requires shade and sun control to ensure that a broad palette of plants can be displayed,” explains

Sweet. “In order to accommodate the possibility of phased development, the structure is formed in two crescents, which combine to form a single crescent, already an iconic form, which also responds to the need for a simple, clearly understood pedestrian circulation system. Sweet adds: “The crescent forms thus become both a focus and an organising device for the overall scheme, with the central promenade dividing the exotic interpretive enclosures from the arid environment of the wadi garden. Axial links connect the broader proposal and radial links connect these, ensuring the option of a broad range of local ‘loops’ to visitors, who may come to the site for one reason, yet stray into other elements of the scheme, to their delight.”

THE FINAL WORD Both Buro Happold and Barton Whitmore are quick to point out the importance of collaboration in bringing KAIG from the sketch room to becoming a conceptual rendering that is ready for tender. “There has been almost zero repetition during the design process and the end result has been achieved through a truly multidisciplinary, collaborative and innovative approach,” explains Young. Moreover, providing a structure and an internal environment that meets the requirements of such a broad range of plants is an incredibly difficult feat and, during design, presented a considerable challenge to all those involved. Achieving such a cutting-edge design alongside a botanical garden of the calibre planned for KAIG is testament to the skill of the individuals involved, as well as a very forward-thinking client.

Fabric-covered ticketing structures will create a striking first impression

MIDDLE EAST ARCHITECT | 02.10 | www.constructionweekonline.com


LIGHTING

Showrooms in Jeddah and Riyadh

and

JEDDAH (HEAD OFFICE) Rawada Street Omnia Center P.O. Box 12679 Jeddah 21483 Saudi Arabia Tel. +966 2 669 3241 Fax +966 2 668 3069

CONTRACT FURNITURE

aralazem@technolight-ksa.com

RIYADH Tahlia Street Olaya P.O. Box 17420 Riyadh 11484 Saudi Arabia Tel. +966 1 462 1150 Fax +966 1 465 5406 www.technolight-ksa.com

Technolight was established in 1980. Over 30 years, Technolight has become one of Saudi Arabia’s leading suppliers of lighting fixtures, lighting control systems, wiring devices, contract furniture and security systems with branches in Jeddah, Riyadh and Khobar. We take pride in being the first lighting company to enter the Saudi market and to offer a professional lighting concept solution, marking a landmark in the right direction. Not only did we introduce some of the most prestigious lighting brands and lighting solutions to the Saudi market, but we have also set a professional lighting standard in the Saudi Market.

Our outstanding performance could not have been realized without the family team of Technolight. In fact, our family consists of 57 highly trained sales engineers and installation staff. In addition, we have two showrooms in Jeddah and one in Riyadh all of which are superbly located right in the heart of the city.

Technolight is run by a management team. The managing director and five managers representing different administrative areas of expertise who convene periodically. They run analysis with never-ending improvement cycle. Technolight has several departments. There are lighting design dept, sales dept, marketing dept, financial dept. pricing dept, and other various activities. Technolight sales stock policy is to keep running items always in stock. We have about $4 million in stock which gets updated on regular basis.

Some companies we represent exclusively in KSA are as follows: ERCO (Interior & Exterior Lighting) • WE-EF (Exterior Lighting) • BTICINO (Wiring Devices) VITRA (Office & Home Furniture) • CLIPSAL ( Diming Systems) • COOPER CONTROLS (Diming Systems)


FEATURE ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING

A RC H I T E C T U R A L

LIGHTING A DISCUSSION ON WHETHER LIGHTING CAN BE CONSIDERED ‘ARCHITECTURAL’

W Allianz Arena in all its splendour

hat is lighting? Isn’t ‘lighting’ merely illumination of a particular space? If that’s the case, why is lighting design often considered a must-have skill for 21st Century architects? Perhaps lighting is more than just illumination. Perhaps architecture and

lighting design are forging a relationship that will see the former swallow the latter and spit out some sort of rogue brand of design architect. Architecture is about creating order, building shelter and choosing designs and materials that best allow a structure to be experienced. Where does lighting fit in to

that equation? I think these questions beg one more: If lighting is about illumination and architecture is about structures, does ‘architectural lighting’ truly exist or is lighting something that should be left to facilities managers and MEP professionals? MEA sat down with several of the Middle East’s top lighting manufacturers

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FEATURE ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING

The lighting of Guggenheim Bilbao allows the titanium facade to shimmer

and designers to explore the issue of architectural lighting and to determine whether or not light can help architects to do their jobs better. It might be best to take these questions one-by-one.

WHAT ROLE DOES LIGHTING PLAY IN ARCHITECTURE? To answer this question, it is crucial to first address the implied assumption that there exists a fundamental relationship between lighting and architecture. For Gary Turner, general manager of Fagerhult Lighting in Dubai and Henrik Clausen, director of Fagerhult’s Lighting Academy in Copenhagen, the answer to that question is a foregone conclusion. “Lighting, with regard to architecture, is fascinating,” explains Turner. “People from similar backgrounds can walk into a space and perceive totally different visuals and feel very different emotions, all because of the impact of light.” Turner & Clausen consider the Middle East a unique environment where – due to the larger-than-life profile and publicity of some projects – lighting designers, architects, contractors and developers have no choice but to collaborate. “The lighting has to be created in close cooperation with the architect who designs the building. Essentially, the lighting design should

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build upon the architect’s vision of the look, form and function of the building.” More than just the necessity of collaboration, however, Gabriel Abdelhakmi, marketing manager for Zumtobel Group MENA, believes light and architecture are connected on a deeper, more ethereal, level. “With integral lighting solutions, Zumtobel creates lighting scenes which enable people to experience the interplay of light and architecture in all its diversity. Light unfolds its special creative power [as it] interplays with space and architectural form.” “It is only through the thoughtful use of light that a structure or space is really experienced,” agrees Richard Holmes, business development director, and Sergio Padula, light planning manager, both of iGuzzini. “Aesthetic lighting creates ambience and atmosphere; functionally speaking, [lighting] increases user security and well being.” The point that Holmes, Padula and Abdelhakmi make is not dissimilar from that which is made throughout the ranks of lighting designers and manufacturers the world over. The fact is, some of the most iconic architecture in the world is defined by its nocturnal aesthetic, thanks to the beauty and complexity of an intricate lighting scheme.

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FEATURE ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING

MO MOVING PAST THE LIGHTING DESIGN, THE SELECTION OF THE LIGHT FITTING BECOMES CRITICAL. TH THE LIGHT DISTRIBUTION CREATED BY A PRODUCT IS ONE OF THE MAIN CONSIDERATIONS AS TO WHY TH THAT PRODUCT IS SELECTED. HOWEVER, NOT ONLY DOES THE PRODUCT HAVE TO PERFORM WITH VIS VISUAL SATISFACTION, IT HAS TO PHYSICALLY PERFORM IN THE ENVIRONMENT IT IS INSTALLED. CHRIS RIMMER CH “Quality internal lighting p promotes health, increases productivity and ensures accuracy in the workplace, whilst exterior lighting accentuates architectural elements, which may otherwise be lost come nightfall. Whether internal or external, lighting creates an energy that enhances identity and evokes emotion in the observer,” explain Holmes & Padula. To be sure, some of the world’s best examples of quality lighting can be found in the Middle East. “Locally I would give the example of the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi; whenever I pass that building in the day I feel very humbled, I get a sense of my place in this world,” explains Chris Rimmer, business development manager for Targetti Poulsen. “But, every time I pass it at night, I feel the sensation of Liverpool One is an example of how lighting transforms a masterplan into a vibrant city centre

wonder. My experience of the building changes from one scene to another… through the addition of lighting.” Going back to the initial question of whether a fundamental relationship exists between lighting and architecture, the answer would seem to be a resounding affirmation. While the role it enjoys may vary, it is clear that lighting plays a role and that role is crucial. Raman Krishnan, regional manager of Lighting Design Alliance, sums up: “If architecture is the art of conceiving forms, architectural lighting is the art of using light to enhance these forms. Light has a direct impact on how building interiors and exteriors are designed. It influences the form of spaces and the materials of which they are made.”

An internal solution from Targetti Poulsen

WHERE ARE THE ‘LIGHT ARCHITECTS’? So, it’s safe to assume that lighting and architecture are intimately connected. But, if so, why – naysayers and purists might agree –don’t architecture firms employ ‘lighting architects’ whose sole responsibility is to ensure the perfect integration of illumination and form? Rimmer’s answer is one of specialization and practicality: “Maybe we should consider why architectural practises don’t employ structural engineers, building services engineers or vertical transportation consultants? Each of these disciplines, along with many others all contribute to architecture…yet they tend to stand alone as specialist companies whose services are used when required. A lighting designer, or ‘light architect’, is no different…I would not use an internal lighting designer when I was working on a building façade, just as I wouldn’t use a landscape architect to detail the inside of my building.” Holmes & Padula point to budgetary constraints as a key reason for the lack of ‘lighting architects’ in the industry. They do, however, believe that inviting lighting specialists to the concept design table is the best way to achieve the desired integration of illumination and form. They point to the Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi

Lutron’s lighting solution for the New York Times building made it an instant icon for New York City

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FEATURE ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING Subtle lighting of Arjan Rotana at Dubai’s Media City is one of the city’s newest masterpieces

as a perfect example of this collaboration. “Lighting is a physical part of the [building’s] architectural design and the outcome is architecturally sympathetic in the day and truly stunning at night!” In fact, Holmes & Padula suggest that including a lighting professional at the design stage should be essential – especially if architects are interested in ensuring controlled placement of efficient light sources, minimizing light pollution and lifetime maintenance costs and maximizing the design elements of their structure. Abdelhakmi’s message is more direct. “Architecture firms do actually work with ‘light architects’. They’re the lighting specialists who – in close cooperation with architects – bring the architects concept to life during the night.”

HOW DOES LIGHTING HELP ARCHITECTS DO THEIR JOBS BETTER? Put aside the argument about whether or not true ‘lighting architects’ exist. Also, disregard the ambiguity of whether or not a lighting professional may be considered a lighting ‘architect’. As to the question of architects collaborating with lighting consultants, it begs the question: How does it help them? How does the presence or absence of light affect the way in which architecture is planned, built or used? Apart from arguments based on aesthetics or appropriateness, Holmes & Padula tackle the issue of quantifiable solutions and attempt to answer the question of what a lighting consultant brings to the table. “Using quality luminaires results in visual impact but they are also vital when considering the…longevity of a solution – a longer life, lower energy consumption and ease of maintenance ultimately reduces long-term costs of a building.”

An internal solution for a staircase

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Rimmer agrees: “Moving past the lighting design, the selection of the light fitting becomes critical. The light distribution created by a product is one of the main considerations as to why that product is selected. However, not only does the product have to perform with visual satisfaction it has to physically perform in the environment it is installed. A well designed product compromises on neither of these characteristics.” This function is perhaps where manufacturers play their most important role. While lighting designers need to design and build a fitting that will fulfil the vision, perhaps more importantly, they also have to be able to demonstrate that the product will be able to perform the promised function. Rimmer recommends rigorous testing by the manufacturer to ensure that the product will operate in the environment it has been designed for and, photometrically, it will distribute light as intended. This, he explains, is the essence of what lighting professionals bring to the table: “If an architect or designer can access this information and they are confident that the information is accurate, then the design process and product selection becomes much easier.” There is, perhaps, another fundamental role that has been overlooked throughout this discussion. According to some in the industry – Rimmer included – architectural lighting fundamentally impacts on the ‘purpose’ of the building. Consider this: Different tasks require different levels of light provided by different types of light source. Equally, dif-

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ferent demographics require more or less light. For example, if a library is provided with too little light, nobody can read the books. If this is the case, what is the point of having a library? Perhaps another example would drive home Rimmer’s point: “If a monochromatic light source were to be used in a store,” he explains, “The shoppers would not [be able to] perceive the goods in a way their brains understood. Thus, the shopper is dissatisfied with their purchase and future sales in the store decrease.”

THE LAST WORD It’s clear that lighting professionals benefit from working closely with architects – their products get chosen, their profile increases, their solutions become more popular, etc. etc. – but it would seem that the relationship is one of mutual benefit. Architects who consult regularly with lighting professionals have the opportunity, through lighting alone, to ensure that the way in which their building is projected at night is consistent with their original vision. Few things would cause more distress to an architect than to drive past his or her newest completed project, only to find out that some rogue lighting designer has cast their building in Las Vegas-style lighting. Lighting defines the form of a building for 10-12 hours per day, or, half of its life. The final form of a building should reflect architectural intent as closely as possible. Therefore, it seems clear that lighting is as important to the true character of a building as its façade, materials or orientation, and should be considered with equal care.


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QATAR PROJECT SHOWCASE

SHARING KNOWLEDGE DOHA’S KEC EXEMPLIFIES NEW ARCHITECTURAL LANGUAGE

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atari developer, DohaLand, officially unveiled its new Knowledge Enrichment Centre (KEC) in mid-January, ushering in a new and exciting era in contemporary Qatari architecture. A floating structure moored in the sea just off the Doha Corniche, the KEC was commissioned by DohaLand and designed by Allies and Morrison to be a microcosm of the 35-hectare Musheireb – formerly ‘Heart of Doha’ – development. “The hull is made from steel, but the building uses natural materials such as timber and stone. It chimes with a simplicity and modesty that is synonymous with Qatari architecture,” architecture, said Simon Gathercole, head of Allies and Morrison’s Doha office. The unveiling of KEC also marks the

KEC represents Phase 1A of the greater Musheireb development

official beginning of construction of Phase 1A of the Musheireb – formerly ‘Heart of Doha’. “This new floating landmark at the Doha Corniche...will become the focal point of the culture and knowledge movement in Qatar going forward,” said Eng. Issa M. Al Mohannadi, CEO of DohaLand, from the official ceremony inside the KEC. Al Mohannadi added: “[KEC] is the vison of Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned. HH often stresses our ‘commitment to remain true to our distinctive Qatari traditions and customs’ and to strive to ‘create a rising homeland that confidently embaraces modernization and proudly observes tradition’.” Composed of traditional Qat Qatari architectural concepts including a baraha (informal entry courtyard), ma malkaf (founplac terrace tain), majliss (VIP meeting place), and exhibition galleries, the KE KEC embodies DohaLand’s five developmen development pillars: sustainab heritage, innovation, sustainability, environment enrichment and environment. oatin plat“Built on a floating form...the KEC wi will serve as a link between Qatar’s rich past and its promising DohaLan has set future. DohaLand

upon changing the city’s landscape with the new Qatari architectural language...,” explained Al Mohannadi. “The KEC is a metaphor for the Musheireb project,” added Tim Makower, prinicipal at Allies and Morrison. “It exemplifies and sets a benchmark for where we’re going with Musheireb. It is accessible, visible and engaging. It connects people. It is strategically positioned between West Bay (new Doha) and the old city.” According to the January presentation, the KEC measures 91 metres long and 24 metres wide, with a floor area of 1200 square meters, and symbolizes both land and sea; the desert life of the Bedouins and the maritime tradition of pearl diving and fishing, which together form the core of Qatari identity and regional history.

KEC’S TALE OF THE TAPE Developer: DohaLand Project Mgr: TIME Qatar Designer: Allies and Morrison Start date: August 18, 2009 Finish: November 2, 2009 Realisation: 76 days Location: Doha Corniche

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QATAR PROJECT SHOWCASE

MAGNIFICENT MUSHEIREB THE FORMER ‘HEART OF DOHA’ HAS ADOPTED A NEW QATARI IDENTITY

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QATAR PROJECT SHOWCASE

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overnment officials and journalists from around the region descended upon Doha in January in anticipation of an event to celebrate the laying of the foundation stone of DohaLand’s US $5.5 billion Musheireb [formerly Heart of Doha] mixed-use development. Boasting a design that is the product of collaboration between Allies and Morrison, Arup and Edaw, the 35-hectare Heart of Doha will be developed in five phases, with Phase 1A – which has been dubbed the ‘Diwan Emiri Quarter’ and includes the Emiri Diwan annex, the Emiri Guard HQ, a heritage quarter and the Qatari National Archives – to be fully completed by 2012. “The Heart of Doha will be a shining example of Qatar’s determination to innovate, not just for innovation’s sake, but the end goal of improving quality of life and ensuring that heritage and culture carries on as the country grows and evolves,” said HE Dr Abdullah al Kubaisi, vice chairman of DohaLand. “Qatar has a magnificent

history of rich culture and tradition, while at the same time, a present day that exhibits a country that has evolved into a progressive, global leader in a variety of industries.” A subsidiary of Qatar Foundation, DohaLand is being developed under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al Missned and the Qatari royal attended the ceremony to deliver the keynote address. In fact, the Her Highness is the chairperson of the Qatar Foundation and thus, her role in Musheireb has been more than just perfunctory. “We feel the vision from His and Her Highness for a sustainable, lasting architecture – architecture that isn’t just glass and metal greenhouses overheating in the desert – is our kind of vision,” said Tim Makower, principal of Allies and Morrison, in an exclusive interview with MEA . Upon completion, it is estimated that Musheireb will incorporate 1,000 housing units – apartments, townhouses and villas – and be able to accommodate approximately 27,000 residents.

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Musheireb aims to improve quality of life for all Doha residents

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QATAR PROJECT SHOWCASE

THE BEST OF THE REST… MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART The new Museum of Islamic Art in Doha is dedicated to becoming the world’s foremost museum of Islamic art. The design and location of the building literally and figuratively positions the museum to become a catalyst for the development of Doha as a centre of excellence for its burgeoning culture and education sectors. Moreover, it demonstrates the vision and commitment of the State of Qatar to the international cultural/museums sector. In architectural terms, it is one of the most distinguished modern buildings in the region. A perfect illumination of Islamic treasures in the generously designed halls and galleries is achieved with a customised Starflex spotlight solution (fibre-optic), developed by the lighting designers in conjunction with Zumtobel Lighting. The galleries feature almost 2,000 spotlights, which are aesthetically discrete but focused in lighting effect. MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART Architect IM Pei Structural Engineer Leslie E. Robertson Associates Mechanical Engineer Jaros Baum & Bolles Interior Designer Wilmotte Associes SA Lighting Designer Isometrix, London Lighting Manufacturer Zumtobel

AL SHAQAB EQUESTRIAN ACADEMY A new centre of equestrian excellence for the display, training, care and breeding of Arabian horses is taking shape within Education City. Known as Al Shaqab Academy, the project aims to provide the region’s first comprehensive equestrian facility. Spread over an area of 800,000m², Al Shaqab will include state-of-the-art stables; a riding school with covered indoor training arena; surrounding stables for horses and ponies; an equestrian club for private members with recreational and dining facilities; a museum with exhibition area and library. The project also includes a five-level back-to-back Grandstand – half of which faces the indoor arena and other half towards the outdoor arena. AL SHAQAB EQUESTRIAN ACADEMY Industry Sport Facilities Client Qatar Foundation Architect Leigh & Orange AV Systems TechnoQ Location Education City Construction Manager KEO Contractor Gulf Leighton Value US $407 million

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THE PEARL QATAR The Pearl Qatar is a multibillion dollar manmade island project spanning 985 acres (400 hectares) of reclaimed land. The development is the country’s first international urban development venture, its largest urban development and the first to offer freehold ownership to foreign nationals. The Pearl Qatar is a 13-island mixed-use development comprising 10 themed districts to be developed over five years housing beachfront villas, singlefamily homes, luxury apartments, exclusive penthouses, 5-star hotels, marinas, schools and retail and restaurant offerings. Once completed, The Pearl will create 32 km of new coastline, for use as a residential estate with an expected 15,000 dwellings by mid-2010. THE PEARL QATAR Industry Mixed use Development Client State of Qatar Masterplan & Design Architect Callison Developer United Development Company Project & Construction Mgr Dar Al-Handasah AV & selected security TechnoQ Completion Date 2012 Location West Bay Lagoon Value US$ 2.5 billion

AL HITMI MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT Located on a prime waterfront site along the Doha Corniche, this contemporary project is the newest landmark in this city’s rapidly emerging skyline. The development consists of a 7-story high linearly arranged office block anchored by a 15-story residential tower. The concept for the project was inspired by imagery of stone formations cantilevered over a body of water, to create a metamorphic link to the Persian Gulf. Clad with dark tinted glass, polished and textured natural stones tiles, the massing of the project is a direct response to the development’s proximity to the water. A sky-lit atrium featuring internal landscaped gardens traverses horizontally between the office blocks and folds up into the residential tower. Internally, public and private spaces are designed to allow natural light and provide views of the Doha Corniche and Bay. AL HITMI MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT Client Hitmi Property Development Architect Norr Group International Consultants Location Doha Corniche Total built area 63,462m² Office G+7 Residential G+15


CASE STUDY DUBAI RUGBY 7s STADIUM

SPORTING SUCCESS

IN LIGHT OF DECEMBER’S EMIRATES AIRLINE DUBAI RUGBY SEVENS, MEA SPEAKS TO JOHN RABONE OF R&R DESIGN ABOUT THE CHALLENGES OF DESIGNING A WORLD-CLASS STADIUM FROM SCRATCH

C

The grandstand had to seat 15,000 people

onverting a patch of desert into a multi-purpose stadium capable of hosting a world-class sporting event – over a period of only 18 months – is no easy task. When R&R Design was brought on board to prepare visuals for Emirates Airlines’ IRB World Cup 7s bid, the intention was to stage the event at the existing ‘Exiles’ site. This would be extended to include two new pitches, a back-to-back stand with 15,000 seats, a multi-storey car park and a medical/press block, all in time for the IRB World Cup in March 2008. In terms of a time frame, they were already cutting it thin. Soon after, and somewhat out of the blue, it transpired that the existing Exiles site was in fact going to be demolished to

make room for the impressive Meydan development. For all involved, this presented a whole new set of issues. “We now had 18 months, no site and one of Dubai’s biggest global annual events to stage,” noted John Rabone, managing director of R&R Design, and lead designer on the project. “By the end of June 2006 a site on the Al Ain road had been located and a new brief had been defined by Emirates. “Initially we needed to get two pitches ready by February 2007 for the local rugby teams to use, as the Exiles ground was due to close in December 2006,” he explained. “By the end of July, we had the draft masterplan and initial concept sketches of the main buildings complete,” Rabone continued.

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CASE STUDY DUBAI RUGBY 7s STADIUM

“The Al Ain road site was now a vast area of desert with no power or water available, and the development was to consist of six rugby pitches, a clubhouse for local teams, including 12 changing rooms, a bar and banquet hall, a grandstand to seat 15,000 and contain ten world-class changing rooms, and VIP facilities, including execwutive boxes.” The aim was to create a facility that would lend itself to most major sports. It had to be able to comfortably host intimate ‘local’ events, as well as large-scale,

international sporting extravaganzas. “The design, whilst being a functional day-to-day venue for local rugby, netball and football, which caters for around 2,000 people some nights, also had to be designed around the running of the Sevens and be able to cater for 50,000+ spectators,” Rabone pointed out. Emirates wanted the new site to retain the feel of the old Exiles 7’s venue, whilst simultaneously representing a ‘step up’. The clubhouse, for example, blends ‘old rugby club charm’ with contemporary chic. Warm, vibrant colours are combined with high-end finishings and fi xtures. A members club was put on hold until this year and will consist of a gymnasium, sports hall, four squash courts, a restaurant, a health spa, kid’s gym, crèche, dance studios, a 50m lap pool, outdoor pool and bar, jacuzzi and four tennis courts. The extremely condensed timeline had a significant impact on how the project unfolded. “A timeline like this means there’s no real review time. It’s discuss the problem, make the change and build it. I’d be a liar if I said there weren’t mistakes but this is the inevitable fact given the speed of the project,” Rabone said.

After its original site was demolished to make room for Meydan, R&R had 18 months, no site and a pressing timeline

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“The main change in the design was, after the costs were found to be unrealistic, we decided to only construct the lower tier of the grandstand, with the option to build the upper tiers in the future,” he noted. One of the most striking features of the overall design of the new stadium is a central, grass bank that flanks pitch two, according to Rabone. “When we looked at the master plan, we wanted to create a family feel to the area between pitch one and two, where you can relax, meet friends and just escape the grandstands for an hour or so,” he said. “When looking at the concept I’d just returned from the cricket World Cup and had seen the successful grass bank in Antigua where they’d even incorporated a small pool for fans to cool off,” Rabone revealed. “This was a big influence when we created the banking around pitch two where fans could sit and enjoy the games in an informal atmosphere. Its incorporation would also allow the pitch to be used for concerts,” he continued. “Seeing the response at the Sevens and World Cup to this area was really pleasing – and for once I new exactly where to find my 14 year olds when it was time to leave!”


THE SKETCHBOOK TECHNOSPHERE

TECHNOSPHERE Client: Economic Zones World Location: Jebel Ali, Dubai, UAE Height: G+25 Completion: End of 2011 Architect: James Law Cybertecture International Website: www.jameslawcybertecture.com Structural Engineer: Ove Arup & Partners j g James Law Cybertecture y Project Manager: International

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THE SKETCHBOOK TECHNOSPHERE

THE CONCEPT OF THIS ICONIC BUILDING FOR THE TECHNOPARK OF DUBAI, IS A BUILDING WHICH WILL REFLECT THE STATE OF PLANET EARTH IN THE CURRENT AND FUTURE TIMES. PLANET EARTH EMBODIES THE VERY ESSENCE OF THE ECOSYSTEM THAT WE LIVE IN. THIS CONCEPT TAKES THE PLANET’S ECOSYSTEM AND INTERPRETS IT AS A CYBERTECTURE BUILDING THAT MIMICS THE FORCES OF NATURE TO PRODUCE A BUILDING THAT IS A WONDER FOR PEOPLE TO VISIT, LIVE AND WORK IN – AS WELL AS A SYMBOL OF THE POWER OF TECHNOLOGY.

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ARCHITECTURE COMPARE & CONTRAST

BATTLE OF...

MYSTERIOUS MONOLITHS

MOAI OF EASTER ISLAND

STONEHENGE

Location Easter Island, Chile Carved Between 1250 CE and 1500 CE Number of statues 887 Weight of statues From 86 tonnes Building style Minimalist Building material Tuff, basalt, trachyte, scoria Restorations 1960, 1970, 1972, 1974 UNESCO World Heritage status 1994

Location Wiltshire County, England, UK Built Between 3000 BCE and 1600 BCE Weight of each stone Approx. 50 tons Building material ‘Bluestone’ or Preseli Spotted Dolerite Construction technique No evidence Restorations 1901, 1920, 1958, 1963 Owner British Royal Family UNESCO World Heritage status 1986

The mystery It is not known exactly how the moai were moved across the island. Oral histories recount how various people used divine power to command the statues to walk. The earliest accounts say a king named Tuu Ku Ihu moved them with the help of the god Makemake, while later stories tell of a woman who lived alone on the mountain ordering them about at her will. Scholars currently support the theory that the main method was that the moai were “walked” upright, as laying it prone on a sled would have required an estimated 1500 people to move the largest moai that had been successfully erected.

The mystery There is little or no direct evidence of the construction techniques used by the Stonehenge builders. Over the years, various authors have suggested that supernatural or anachronistic methods were used, usually asserting that the stones were impossible to move otherwise. However, conventional techniques using Neolithic technology have been demonstrably effective at moving and placing stones of a similar size. Proposed functions for the site include usage as an astronomical observatory, or as a religious site. Other theories have advanced supernatural or symbolic explanations for the construction.

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THE LAST WORD

STATE OF PLAY JAMES ABBOTT, DIRECTOR OF P&T ARCHITECTS &

ENGINEERS IN DUBAI, SPEAKS WITH MEA ABOUT DEVELOPERS, LICENSURES AND SAFEGUARDING ARCHITECTS’ INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY IN THE UAE More so than any other market, why do buildings in Dubai list so many architects and consultants? JA: Some developers consider concept design, design development & documentation and construction services as completely different activities that can be carried out independently by different consultants without any interaction. We feel strongly that that is not the way to procure good building design and it’s certainly not the way to achieve good architecture. Is it a case of too many cooks? JA: The problem with having a lot of architects doing different things is continuity. When you lose continuity, you lose the integrity that ought to be there through the entire design process. Concept design can only ever be concept because you rarely know everything required for the complete design at the start of the project and often the brief changes during development. For the original ideas to be followed through, it needs the same person to be involved. Can you explain a bit more about the pitfalls of inconsistency? JA: If one architect comes up with a concept, and that’s all they’re required to do, they have no responsibility to actually deliver that

What is the connection between inconsistency and licensure? JA: If an overseas architect is asked to do a design, it’s difficult for them to follow it through until the end and implement it fully as the Architect of Record if they’re not licensed in the city in which they’re designing. In those instances, there’s a genuine need for collaboration between an architect of record and an overseas consultant. It ought to be a collaboration that goes from the start to the end of the job. A true partnership. Even though one architect may run the construction phase, the original architect ought to be there as well to follow up on design matters. So, for example, if P&T does a concept design and then passes it on to another firm, that’s ok as long as there’s close collaboration? JA: We don’t do concepts and pass them on. That’s just something we don’t do. We’re not interested in that. We don’t get the full return on the intellectual capital that we put into a concept design if we do it and then pass it on cheaply. We think we’re underselling ourselves. In the past, we have taken over jobs from concept design; we’re not averse to doing that. If it’s a large complex project and we can help

A CONCEPT SHOULDN’T LIVE ON ITS OWN. IT OUGHT TO BE INFORMED BY THE KNOWLEDGE THAT IT CAN BE BUILT. AND THE ARCHITECT NEEDS TO HAVE THAT ATTITUDE ALL THE WAY THROUGH. concept. A concept shouldn’t live on its own. It ought to be informed by the knowledge that it can be built. And the architect needs to have that attitude all the way through. The only way to do that in an integral way that delivers to the client good value and good architecture is to have the same people involved from the beginning and still there at the end.

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to deliver a concept that has already been done and we think we can take ownership of that concept, then we’ll do that. We did that on the Al Dana project on Al Raha Beach, which we did with Aldar. I have witnessed multiple firms calling themselves the architect of the same building. How can this be?

JA: It’s a difficult question to answer because we have to be respectful of other architects and consultants that have legitimate claims. Whether it’s the structural engineer, the concept architect or the security consultant, if they worked on the project, they all have a right to claim that they were involved in the project. People do take liberties and sometimes it’s not clearly stated what their role was on the project but it’s fair enough, if you state your role, to claim that you have an involvement in a certain project. So, how does one determine who is actually ‘The Architect’? JA: This is where it becomes difficult. On projects where there was more than one architect involved, how do you determine who is The Architect? If there’s an architect involved and all he’s done is rubber stamp drawings throughout the job – which does happen – it’s questionable how much he can claim to be the architect of a building. I think the designer is the one who is ultimately responsible for the architecture and should get the greatest credit. Final question: Several firms in Dubai, including P&T, have the capability to offer turn-key services. Why aren’t they being used? JA: I can only speculate to the reason but cost is probably one of them. The upperend architects tend to be more expensive. My speculation is that there are those that want to own an outstanding design but don’t necessarily want to pay for the best delivery. I think unfortunately that’s the reality. For every unique, iconic, innovative, groundbreaking concept, if it is a real project with real end users, it has to be able to meet expectations on cost, quality and time.


c o n c e p t c r e a t o r s The Draw Link Group is served by several companies providing comprehensive end-to-end solutions complementing each other’s area of operation. The group offers services in the elds of architecture, interior design, project management and Information Technology and media. Multidisciplinary we make sure we deliver solutions that best satisfy client needs. With ofces in the Middle East and North Africa, DrawLink is committed to bring the best quality, innovation and creativity to its audience. Since each project is a challenge that draws a unique yet compelling treatment. Middle East P.O.Box 5041 Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Tel +971 4 283 4477 - Fax +971 4 283 4488 - North Africa TANIT centre B2 Flat 31 2070 La Marsa, Tunisia - Tel +216 70 939 444 - Fax +216 70 939 464

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Middle East Architect - Feb 2010