For the first time in eight years since the inception of the Middle East Architect Awards, there is a joint winner for Architect of the Year. 2016 winners are Nasser Bader Abulhasan and Joaquin Perez-Goicoechea, principal partners at AGi Architects, which has offices in Kuwait and in Madrid, Spain.
The Architect of the Year award recognises the region’s most exciting architects. The prize is awarded to professionals who have demonstrated commitment to dynamic yet feasible design that harmonises with its surroundings.
Nominees for the award also needed to acknowledge innovation, timelessness, aesthetic significance and eco-friendliness within the their entire body of work. A wealth of projects, both built and conceptualised, were also necessary for consideration.
The partners team work and co-operation in creating thoughtful and contextual projects is the reason there couldn’t be just one winner this year.
The judges praised the work of the two winning individuals, describing it as “truly superb”, and adding that for this reason they “could not separate them”.
AGi Architects has also won Boutique Firm of the Year category for the past two years as well as picking up an award for the Residential category for its House on the Rocks projects. The firm was also highly commended for its “visually stunning” Qatar Courthouse nomination.
Unfortunately, Goicoechea was unable to make it to the event so Abulhasan picked up the prize for both winners.
Collecting his third trophy of the night, Abulhasan said: “I have to start by thanking our team because this is a team effort- it’s thanks to our team that we have put together strong, collaborative work- with our partners, with our clients and the people we continue to associate with.
We feel very lucky because both Joaquin and I are not just business partners- we are friends. We started as colleagues together as school and since then we have been collaborating. Of course with any kind of partnership there are struggles but there is also a lot of hard work.”
When asked about the firm’s projects in the region, he said: “In the Middle East we primarily focus on Kuwait as it is our natural market but we have been looking for other opportunities in the region, Iran being our focal point and Qatar as well. Nothing has yet materialised but we continue to be involved in competitions and strive forward. In Dubai we haven’t done anything yet, there are a lot of fans here but we haven’t received a project yet but fingers crossed it will happen soon.”
Abulhasan also described his partnership with Goicoechea: “Me and Joaquin are complete opposites and as they say opposites attract. We are opposites not in the way we behave or think but in terms of who looks at what at what moment. So in a bigger picture we try to complement one another and that’s how our work continues to strive- we never push together and we never pull together.
“Both of us value research, this is something we are continuously doing in the office and the team we have are in line with that. Whatever project we are working on, we spend most of the time researching, asking questions, coming to conclusions, testing these conclusions and that becomes a generator for the designs that we put forward. Some people consider this too extensive of a period to develop a project but to us this is the only way to be unique, and to deliver the product that the client is after. Because if everyone else could deliver that product they wouldn’t specifically come to us. We try to be client-centric and that is something that we enjoy.”