Driving force

Samir Daoud is the chairman and principal design architect of Diar Consult, an architectural, master planning and interior design firm, which has offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, UAE, Doha, Qatar and Riyadh, KSA.

He is a qualified architect, urban designer and town planner, who completed his undergraduate studies in Baghdad School of Architecture in 1977, and then went on to complete his postgraduate studies in Urban Design and Town Planning in London, at the Polytechnic of Central London and the Architectural Association respectively.

He founded the company in 1987, in London, and together with his partner, Sheila Daoud, now has over 100 employees with projects including master planned residential communities and mixed use developments to commercial projects and royal palaces. The company is also known for its originality in interpretations and adaptations of Arabian traditional architecture.

Its latest project in Dubai, is the completion and handing over of one of the largest master planned community housing projects in the UAE, Victory Heights, a community of 963 villas designed around an 18 hole golf course, designed by the golfer, Ernie Els.

What project are you working on now?
Diar Consult is currently engaged in the architectural, interior design and fit-out of the Rolls Royce, BMW and Mini Cooper showrooms and support facilities at Al Maqta Bridge in Abu Dhabi.

This project, considered to be the largest such facility in the Middle East includes repair workshops, service receptions and headquarters of the client and the dealers, Al Saqer Group and Abu Dhabi Motors respectively.

Two out of three phases of the project are now completed and operational, leaving the third phase, dedicated to the BMW showroom in all brands, which will be completed by the end of November 2011. Aecom is the project manager and Bin Harmal Contracting is the main contractor responsible for the entire scope of work.

We are also working on the headquarters of Abu Dhabi Investment Council with an international consortium. This prestigious landmark development comprises 29 storey twin towers on Al Salam Street in Abu Dhabi and is due for completion by the end of 2011.

On this project, Diar Consult is appointed as the architect and engineer of record, responsible for the full contract administration and supervision services.

The international team includes Aedas, Arup and Davis Langdon with Mace acting as the project managers and Al Futtaim Carillion as the main contractor.

What are the challenges interior designers face today on commercial projects?
Interior designers face numerous challenges during the delivery of their services on commercial projects.

The overall financial and budget limitations of the projects, set by the developers, present a challenge whereby interior designers must have not only the responsibility and rationale to stick to these financial limitations, but also, to have the artistry and management skills to be cost effective in fulfilling the corporate and commercial branding and identities of the end user and his expectations for quality interiors.

In several cases, interior designers face a situation whereby clients are not tuned in with or clear about their operational and utilitarian requirements and hence the brief tends to be sketchy at the outset with issues of flexibility of the interiors, future growth, inter relationships between the various departments of the project etc. being left for future vague interpretations.

Another challenge is when architects deliver a building to their clients where little regard has been given to flexibility in use of space, alignment or spatial organisation for the interior designer to exercise his role, to add interior creativity and rational utilisation of space, positioning of openings, windows, doorways, ceiling heights, etc.

Very often, interior designers are brought on board at the very last stage of the development of the commercial project when they can bring about limited intervention and add too little creativity too late to shape the interiors.

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