Loci Architecture + Design unveils the design of the Abwab pavilions

Dubai-based architectural practice, loci Architecture + Design unveil their design for the pavilions that will form Dubai Design Week’s ‘Abwab’ initiative.

‘Abwab’ (doors in Arabic) will be made up of six country pavilions dedicated to design from across the MENASA region. A key initiative of Dubai Design Week that will give each selected country an unrivalled opportunity to promote their local talent on the international stage. This year’s nominated countries are: Jordan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and UAE.  Curators from each country will lead their designers to work individually or collectively and generate never-before-seen design content under one unifying theme, this year being - Games: The Element of Play in Culture.

Dubai Design Week speaks to Hamad Khoory, Partner at loci Architecture + Design about designing the 50m2 Abwab Pavilions:

How did your collaboration with Dubai Design Week - and more specifically Abwab - develop?

Hamad: We exhibited last year at Downtown Design. We were the only local company exhibiting a locally designed and manufactured product at the show; this created a certain amount of attention directed at loci by the organisers. After being involved in Dubai Design & Fashion Council’s quarterly Urban Majlis discussions we were approached by Dubai Design Week to design the pavilions as we were a local firm with passion for regional design solutions.

How did the 2015 theme of ‘Games: The Element of Play in Culture’ influence your design for the pavilions?

Hamad: The concept of play and culture can be interrupted in many ways. It has definitely played a role in the design phase of the project and has led to ideas both directly and indirectly. Many of these ideas made their way into the final design and has guided our thought process throughout. As mentioned below, the main focal material we are using is sand, and in itself sand is a playful material, the way it moves, accumulates, shifts and the endless playful interactions we have with it growing up.

Did each of the six chosen curators also influence the end result? If so, how? 

Hamad: No - being true to the form - the greatest challenge for us was how to design a pavilion that suited our aesthetics both from inside and outside, without affecting the curations on the interior.

What was your goal (with the curators in mind) when creating these pavilions? 

Hamad: We wanted to create a very flexible space for the exhibitors so that they are open to choose multiple scenarios to suit their curation as they wish, without too many restrictions. We also have an option if the curator wishes to expose our facade to the interior space and be part of the gallery experience, or fully isolate themselves from it.

What was your main inspiration behind the design? 

Hamad: The region as a whole, the materials available locally that are abundant and underused and the traditional principles of regional architecture and planning.

Pavilion Exterior 1.jpg

If you used any specific techniques with regards to materials, the building or design, please can you explain what they are? 

Hamad: We are using multiwall polycarbonate sheets and sand. I don’t want to give too much away, but we are modeling and testing real-time size mock-ups and exploring new techniques every day. Since this is a new system we are creating there is a certain level of trial and error to go through before getting results we are happy with.

How did the culture, environment and climate of Dubai affect your design? 

Hamad:With location and geographical context at the heart of our projects, each project adopts a certain style that doesn’t feel too alien to its environment. Nonetheless, minimal, modern and functional design are all terms that overshadow each of our projects.

What did you enjoy most about this project and were there any highlights for you? 

Hamad: The challenge to create this pavilion in a short time within a constrained budget. We are always excited to work on temporary installations as it gives us the opportunity to explore new material and techniques. If successful this could develop into future permanent systems in architecture in the region.

Did you encounter any obstacles or hurdles with your initial plans? If so, what were they and how did you overcome them? 

Hamad: Yes, budget was one our main constraints, but with the vigorous design process at loci and close relationship with the contractor and multiple workshops with Dubai Design Week’s team we were able to come up with a final solution.

What are your thoughts on both the established and the emerging design scene in the Middle East? 

Hamad: There are a lot of new startups and ventures in the industry, which encourages a new generation of thoughts & ideas with new energy. I think this energy will drive a regional renaissance with Dubai at its heart, it still has a long way to go, but we (as designers) will take it one step at a time.

What do you think hosting a design week will achieve? 

Hamad: Dubai has become a beating heart of art and design in the Middle East. A melting pot of different professions and cultures; Dubai is the ideal backdrop to host and create a strong regional design identity. We believe that we, as regional designers, will usher in an era of invention and innovation.

Loci -.jpg

Hamad Khoory, Partner & Hamza Omari, Industrial Designer at loci