Last year’s winner of the Middle East Architect of the Year award was Matthew Engele, now regional design director at Woods Bagot. Here he writes a personal piece about how it felt to be voted number one, along with what the awards mean to the regional industry.
I was thrilled to win such a prestigious award as the Middle East Architect of the Year. It is always great to receive recognition for all the hard work and long hours but I feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to design amazing projects with fantastic teams and colleagues.
A wide spectrum of projects were submitted which ranged from high density mixed used, residential, hospitality, education and commercial. I focused on choosing projects that I felt have the biggest impact on the region.
Dubai Design District, for example, is a personal favourite as I collaborated in designing the masterplan and facades with an incredible team of designers with the intention to raise the profile of the creative industry in the region by creating a dedicated space that celebrates design.
The Abu Dhabi Education Council School was also chosen as it brings the vertical school typology to the Middle East and lastly Qudurat Retail F&B Village in Riyadh was submitted as it‘s a project that is changing the retail landscape in The Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia.
The Middle East Architecture Awards are always the highlight event of the year for me. The event provides a great opportunity to take time out from our busy schedules to meet up with our peers and see the fantastic projects they have been working on during the year. It is also a place where ideas can be shared and contacts made future collaborations, not to mention it’s always held in a great venue with good food.
Also, it is extremely important for the industry to have an awards night. It is a night where incredible works are recognised and provides a springboard for many smaller firms to get their name out in the lime light. The awards night isn’t only about the award winners either, it’s about everyone in the architectural industry coming together for one night a year to congratulate each other on their tremendous efforts over the last 12 months.
Now looking towards this year, it has already been extremely busy. We have had two high profile hospitality projects just completed, The Al Naseem Hotel in the Madinat Jumeirah and the Le Ville Hotel in City Walk both of which we are extremely proud of.
We have commenced on a 375mmixed-usee tower in Dubai that will set the new benchmark in high-rise in the region. Our transport team have a number of exciting projects in the region that are contributing to the new GCC rail network and we have residential and retail mixed-use developments that are also keeping us on our toes.