Dewan Architects was established in Abu Dhabi in 1984 before setting up an office in Dubai in 1998. Having partnered with international design firms such as Perkins + Will, Asymptote, Benoy, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill and other well known names, the architecture firm has made quite a big name for itself.
Intrigued by the company’s success, DesignMENA visited Dewan’s charming office on Al Wasl Road to find out what goes on behind the scenes.
Tucked away behind lush vegetation, the office is made up of two residential villas merged into one to create an intimate and homey studio space. As you walk through the short threshold into the office premises, it is easy to feel instantly overcome by the flourishing trees and plants that surround the opening. One side even boasts a wooden table and chairs amidst all the plants, where staff sometimes take breaks or have a quick bite.
At first glance, it is difficult to imagine that signature projects known in the region were created here. However, as you enter the main reception, the buzz that one expects of an architecture office suddenly reveals itself.
With a total of 110 employees in Dubai, the staff spreads out across Dewan’s almost maze-like office, which builds up the anticipation while each new corner is unveiled.
“We used to be a small villa,” said operation manager, Haider Al Assam. “So we keep expanding. We wanted to create a home environment in the office.”
As a family-run business, the atmosphere couldn’t have been any more fitting.
The architects are spread across different rooms including the main room that also houses the design managers, a corridor of rooms that houses the urban planners and newer departments as well as a smaller space that used to be a garage with surrounding trees and gardens that was later turned into an office space for the concept designers.
“The office grew naturally since we were much fewer in staff,” said Haider Al Assam. “So it was an organic growth.”
Commenting on the design process at Dewan, executive director, Ammar Al Assam said: “Drawing is the basis for all good design architects. Creativity is based on having an artistic creative nature and passion for drawing, being able to articulate objects in 3D. All of our projects start with a sketch, a doodle, before being transferred to 3D computer rendering, plans and so on.”
Dewan also has a special meeting room for its growing projects in Iraq, where the founder of Dewan, Mohamed Al Assam, is originally from.
The company’s latest projects include Basra Cultural Centre, Basra, Iraq; Sammara University, Samarra, Iraq; Al Bayt, Khobar, KSA, Amity University, Dubai, UAE; Bateen Park, Abu Dhabi, UAE; Madinat Al Nakheel, Southern Iraq; Green Community Phase 3; Dubai, UAE and Citywalk (The Avenue), Dubai; UAE.