Dubai-based architects discuss what makes a successful residential project

Collaboration with the client and a focus on the end-user are two of the most important aspects of residential design, according to experts in creating villas and apartments in Dubai.

Examining the lives of people is also a key to designing a space which will give residents the best possible levels of comfort and familiarity, say urbanists.

Dubai has a reputation for high-end accommodation which makes it an attractive – but highly competitive – market for urban designers. So, adaptability and imagination are very important, says BIA founder Ana d’Castro.

Ana d’Castro, BIA.

“As the project evolves and takes shape, the role of the designer is to bring to reality the client’s dreams and expectations, giving them shape with materials and forms and presenting suggestions that they believe can enhance the space and make it better,” she says.

“For me residential projects are always the most challenging – but at the same time the most gratifying – as the final outcome is a combination of fruitful collaboration and hard work between the client and the team, where dreams have taken shape into homes.”

Close co-operation between the architect and interior designer is another vital factor, says Perkins + Wills’ Islam Mashtooly.

He said: “It does not matter how much money is spent on the house, good design definitely makes the difference.

“In the end – the architect may build the house, but it’s the designer’s job to make it a home.”

Matthew Engele of Woods Bagot has a number of ground rules underpinning his residential design projects. These include efficient layouts that promote contemporary living, maximising views, and exteriors that create an identity for the residents and that have a 60% solid to 40% glazed ratio to provide light whilst reducing excessive heat gain.

Residential design must evolve, says Mahmoud Shahin.

Residential design must evolve, says Mahmoud Shahin.

“I also emphasise the importance of lobbies that are flexible and double as social spaces, along with high quality interior finishes,” he says.

And designers across the region all agree that the main target of their work should be the person or family who will be in residence.

Mahmoud Shahin of P&T says: “I think of residential design as the ultimate way for people to live their lives naturally and in comfort.

“An individual can feel the benefits of a good residential design nowhere better than in their own homes.

“I believe that looking at every major or minor aspect of a human’s life while designing is a fundamental key to a good residential design. As an architect, currently working on a high rise residential building, I approach the design process by targeting the balance between private and public spaces for all units.

“It is about dividing the spaces within a residence in the way that meets users’ expectations and their culture, without ignoring the matter of aesthetic design. This is in addition to design fundamentals, like the proper amount of daylight and ventilation which can benefit people’s health, well-being and self-esteem.

“Following this theory, residential design has to carry on evolving and be resilient to suit our future needs. For example, in cities as more people currently work from home, the division between work and home becomes blurred. That means the introduction of a space to work. While in family homes, kitchens with space for a table can bring family members together, over meals, games or around a computer. To conclude, residential design must be flexible and adapt to users’ needs over time.”

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