By: Kourosh Salehi, LWK + PARTNERS
Could you please tell our readers about LWK + PARTNERS and what are the projects they have done worldwide?
LWK + PARTNERS is a dynamic, technologically integrated, and constantly evolving international design entity; with studios around the globe focusing on critical thinking and application, our 1,100+ creative minds collaborate across 12 offices around the world providing services including architecture, planning & urban design, interiors, heritage & conservation, landscape, technology, big data & augmented reality, lifestyle & experiential and specialist lighting design. With over 35 years of design evolution, we have completed award-winning projects across various sectors, Master Planning & Urban Design, Mixed-Use & Leisure, large-scale Public Realm initiatives, Hospitality & Resorts, Heritage & Culture, notably having six such projects awarded for construction by HH Sheik Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in Dubai.
LWK + PARTNERS MENA Studio is relatively new to the region; it is fast becoming recognised for its contribution in the fields of contextual design and research across the GCC and hence the establishment of our Riyadh office in 2020 to support the increasing demand for significant commissions in the Kingdom.
Our leaders are deeply committed to architecture and urbanism and research, lecturing globally, and exhibiting at international reputed events such as the Venice Architecture Biennale & Dubai Design Week. It is our goal to immerse guests and visitors into worlds of captivating multi-sensorial experiences that resonate to give them the feeling of uniqueness, excitement, fun, relaxation, and lasting memories.
Ranked 31st largest architectural practice in the world, LWK + PARTNERS has received over 70 world-acclaimed awards in 2021 alone, including Quality Building Awards, the MIPIM Asia Awards, MUSE Awards, and the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards – Cultural Heritage Award in 2018.
Could you please tell us about your journey in the field? How did you think of becoming an architect? What do you enjoy most about your profession?
I started my architecture training in London in 1982 having just graduated from Walthamstow College of Art. The early 80s were exciting times for a young student in London, where the design landscape was thriving with publications, debates, evening talks, and exhibitions.
One of my favourite venues was the small Triangle bookshop at the Architectural Association or the AA, where I would regularly attend evening talks and exhibitions. There were opportunities to meet and interact with new people at these events… one such was a young AA Tutor, who had just won the Peak Competition in Hong Kong. Her name was Zaha Hadid. I arranged a magazine interview with her and wrote an article about her work: I also invited her to do a talk about her work at the university I was studying. To my amazement she accepted. On the evening of her talk, some 400 students and lecturers had turned up, and I, a nervous 19-year-old introduced her to the auditorium stage. That was winter 1983. Hadid’s work and persona were an inspiration to me throughout my undergraduate years. Her boldness and lack of reverence for all that was considered as “accepted norm”, inspired me.
In 1985, the year of my degree graduation I went on to represent my university at the Venice Biennale. I sent a postcard to Zaha, letting her know that my work was being shown in Venice: I was gutted though not entirely surprised when I didn’t get a reply. A few weeks later, however, I got a message that Zaha is looking for a research assistant for some work she was considering taking on, I went to her office and met with her and subsequently spent a few months as an assistant at her newly opened office in Farringdon. Some 35 years on, I still regard her as a major force and influence.
How do you go about choosing materials for façade and cladding?
As one of the most significant components of buildings, façades should be selected with great care and consideration to ensure they achieve a variety of goals and expectations. The external façade of a building is the defensive envelope that protects the content and the inhabitants. Climatic responsiveness and adaptability are prime functions of building façades. Also, the façade, as an outer layer is representative of the appearance and style and how the building engages with the world outside.
What do you think is the role of the façade in the sustainability enhancement of a building?
As the protective skin how responsive a building is to the climatic conditions both within and outside the building falls largely on the outer façade. In a world where climatic conditions demand ever greater sustainable solutions, building skins need to fulfill a number of technical tasks that are efficient and functional simultaneously.
Please tell us about your favourite projects in which you were involved. Please share their façade & fenestration design details.
Currently working on an exciting landmark complex mixed-use tower, but cannot share details as yet. On another scale, the series of Marine-related projects in Abu Dhabi have been both challenging and exciting at the same time. LWK + PARTNERS developed an adaptable solution that can be deployed on different sites across the coastline of the island. Creating a memorable visual identity and a distinct branding gateway, the dynamic designed signature roof element is inspired by the indigenous materials and activities of the site context. The design pays homage to the fisherman’s net and at the highest point, it features a lighthouse lantern that has a dual function as a channel to release hot air and a win
d catcher passively cooling public space.
Where is the architectural industry heading?
As one of the oldest professions, architecture has a great role to play in mitigating the challenges of climate, financial and global conflict which often arise from disaffection with the standard of living and lack of opportunities
What is the role of cladding in constructing sustainable buildings?
The advancement in innovative façade systems and technologies contributes enormously to the wellbeing and efficient functionality of buildings. Yet today in many parts of the world traditional method of construction remain as relevant as ever before. A sensitive response to the context should always prevail.
What are the cladding trends in the Building industry?
Sustainable, smart, and contextually responsive designs
are increasingly requested by the built environment industry and those who commission them.