The sixth edi­tion of the designMENA Sum­mit 2018 fea­tured two panel dis­cus­sions and key­note speak­ers from Le­banon and Morocco

Middle East Architect - - CONTENTS - More about the panel dis­cus­sions and key­note lec­tures can be found on our web­site, www.mid­dleeast­ar­chi­

We pro­vide a re­cap of the designMENA Sum­mit 2018, which was held on 5 De­cem­ber 2018 and fea­tured two panel dis­cus­sions, pre­sen­ta­tions and two key­note lec­tures

At the designMENA Sum­mit 2018, held in Dubai on 5 De­cem­ber 2018 for its sixth edi­tion, ar­chi­tects and de­sign­ers came to­gether to par­tic­i­pate in panel dis­cus­sions and Take 10s. Key­note speak­ers from Le­banon and Morocco, in­clud­ing David Raf­foul and Ni­co­las Mous­sallem, founders of Beirut-based de­sign stu­dio david/ ni­co­las, and Driss Ket­tani, founder of Driss Ket­tani Ar­chi­tecte, also pre­sented their work.

Start­ing the con­fer­ence was a panel dis­cus­sion on the so­cial im­pact of ur­ban de­sign, which was mod­er­ated by Dr Mo­ham­mad Arar, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at the Ar­chi­tec­tural En­gi­neer­ing De­part­ment at Aj­man Univer­sity. The dis­cus­sion’s mem­bers in­cluded Steven Vele­gri­nis, head of mas­ter­plan­ning and di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions at Ae­com; Samer Touqan, project di­rec­tor at De­wan Ar­chi­tects + En­gi­neers; Stephan Frantzen, de­sign di­rec­tor at P&T Ar­chi­tects and En­gi­neers; Laila Al-Yousuf, de­sign di­rec­tor and part­ner at Say Stu­dio and David Les­sard, de­sign di­rec­tor of H+A.

The ar­chi­tects dis­cussed how the method­ol­ogy and think­ing be­hind mas­ter­plan­ning in the emi­rate has shifted to al­low for more flex­i­bil­ity, hu­man-scale build and so­cial im­pact.

Vele­gri­nis ex­plained that ar­chi­tects are be­gin­ning to take on a less tra­di­tional ap­proach to mas­ter­plan­ning, cre­at­ing more flex­i­ble ur­ban de­signs that, as a re­sult, al­low for more pub­lic in­ter­ven­tions.

“I think we are less fo­cused on a fixed mas­ter­plan nowa­days. I think in ur­ban de­sign terms, what we are fac­ing is re­ally de­sign­ing open sys­tems that adapt and change in ways that we didn’t an­tic­i­pate. So we have gone from de­vel­op­ing a mas­ter­plan to de­vel­op­ing al­most a master-process, and I think that al­lows for things like so­cial di­men­sion in ur­ban de­sign to come into it,” he said.

Touqan agreed, adding that the chang­ing de­mo­graph­ics of new cities like Dubai de­mand a flex­i­ble mas­ter­plan that can eas­ily adapt to the var­i­ous shifts that are con­sis­tently tak­ing place.

“The is­sue with cities like Dubai is

that the fun­da­men­tals of plan­ning, that we start with, keep chang­ing. The de­mo­graphic of the city keeps chang­ing, the fi­nan­cial model keeps chang­ing, the num­ber of peo­ple, the dif­fer­ent eth­nic­i­ties, the so­cial back­grounds, keep chang­ing – your mas­ter­plan can­not be static. Ev­ery space that you de­sign needs to re­main flex­i­ble to ac­com­mo­date this ever-chang­ing city,” he ex­plained.

Fol­low­ing the first panel dis­cus­sion was a Take 10 by Lee Sweet­man, di­rec­tor of dpa light­ing con­sul­tants, who dis­cussed the most ef­fec­tive prin­ci­ples of light­ing de­sign.

“Light is a dif­fi­cult medium to work with and it has many nu­ances,” he said. “Light­ing can change the am­biance of ar­chi­tec­ture, in­te­rior and any pub­lic space. It should ideally high­light shad­ows, colours, con­trasts, tex­tures and it should be about the rev­e­la­tion of ma­te­ri­als.”

The first key­note lec­ture pre­sented the work of Le­banese and French de­sign prac­tice david/ni­co­las. Held by the firm’s founders, Raf­foul and Mous­sallem, the pre­sen­ta­tion also ex­plored iden­tity in de­sign, and defin­ing what it means to be Le­banese de­sign­ers to­day. “We had to find our­selves in our coun­try, as well as out­side of our coun­try,” said Mous­sallem.

The de­sign­ers high­lighted their work, which in­cludes prod­uct ranges as well as in­te­ri­ors in Beirut, Am­man and Paris. The de­sign­ers’ in­no­va­tive ap­proach and aes­thetic, which they de­scribe as “retro­fu­tur­is­tic”, is rooted in a wide range of in­flu­ences, from Mid­dle Eastern­ge­om­e­try to an­tique fur­ni­ture, ro­bots, space travel, and even the mu­sic of French duo Daft Punk.

In 2014, at Mi­lan De­sign Week, the duo launched their be­spoke “Ar­ti­choke” safe with Agresti for Wall­pa­per* Hand­made ex­hi­bi­tion, as well as their col­lec­tion “Dualita” for Nina Yashar’s Nil­u­far Gallery. They were se­lected as one of the de­sign week’s three break­out stars by the New York Times.

Since 2016, david/ni­co­las has been rep­re­sented by the pres­ti­gious Car­pen­ters Work­shop Gallery and in 2018, the stu­dio pre­sented its first solo show at the Paris gallery. david/ni­cholas has also worked closely with Jor­da­nian ar­chi­tect Sa­hel Al Hi­yari to re­alise pri­vate res­i­den­tial projects.

Raf­foul and Mous­sallem were fol­lowed by Mo­roc­can ar­chi­tect Ket­tani, who dis­cussed the ar­chi­tec­tural his­tory of Morocco, as well as his stu­dio’s var­i­ous projects, like its on­go­ing B052 Casablanca.

“The de­vel­op­ment in Casablanca is very fast,” he said. “There are a lot of res­i­den­tial pro­grammes, as well as pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture, in­clud­ing new roads and bridges that will ease the prob­lem we have with traf­fic. But the key is­sue in Casablanca is the lack of pub­lic space. There isn’t enough pub­lic space where peo­ple can meet and so­cialise. The price of the land is driv­ing de­vel­op­ers to keep build­ing up. Peo­ple know this is very im­por­tant and it’s be­ing dis­cussed.”

The sec­ond and fi­nal panel dis­cus­sion was mod­er­ated by Phillip Jones, prin­ci­pal and manag­ing di­rec­tor, Mid­dle East and North Africa at B+H Ar­chi­tects.

Fol­low­ing the topic of ‘A Sense of Lo­cal­ity – Con­tex­tual is Sus­tain­able’, the panel con­sisted of mem­bers Jeroen Kortekaas, head of ar­chi­tec­ture at Blue­haus Group; Dun­can Den­ley, manag­ing di­rec­tor at desert INK; Omar Nakkash, founder of Nakkash De­sign Stu­dio; Jen­nie Binchy, de­sign di­rec­tor at Binchy and Binchy; and Marta Galvez, se­nior ar­chi­tect at JT+Part­ners.

The ar­chi­tects and de­sign­ers dis­cussed the use of ma­te­ri­als, as well as de­sign own­er­ship.

“If you rely on fancy ma­te­ri­als to make your project suc­cess­ful, then you’re not do­ing your job as a de­signer,” said Den­ley. “Own­er­ship is an im­por­tant el­e­ment in a de­sign process. A mis­take many make is to de­sign a project for their ego, or their client’s ego, but what’s im­por­tant is to al­low the en­duser to feel a sense of own­er­ship.”

The sec­ond panel dis­cus­sion

Key­note speak­ers David Raf­foul and Ni­co­las Mous­sallem

Key­note speaker Driss Ket­tani

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