Architecture firm calls for end to “goofy” designs in emirate

Dubai’s project designs must be re-addressed with the tenant in mind, says Woods Bagot

Designers and contractors in Dubai must build to market requirements, rather than attempting to create a demand for “iconic” architecture, if the emirate’s real estate market is to be restored.

The comments were made by head of the Woods Bagot global lifestyle division director, Mark Mitcheson-Low, in an interview with The Big Project.

His observations were based on research undertaken by the company on the topic of global demand trends for commercial and office buildings.

“I think the days of goofy architecture, where you just design something from the outside and its function follows form, are totally inefficient. People [here] design a crazy-looking building and then see whatever functions they can pack within it, which is very ego driven.”

The research also concluded that shifting priorities has given more power to tenants than ever before.

“It’s a different approach from clients who used to work on the basis of ‘if you build it they will come’,” said Mitcheson-Low, who established Woods Bagot’s Middle East studio in Dubai in 1997, when the company worked on the Jumeirah Emirates Towers project.

Commenting that the market is now moving in a way that contradicts the “speculative” construction and design of the past, he added: “It’s not surprising, it’s just a sign of the new era; the tenant is key, whereas before it was the landlord.

“You have to build for the market and the type of tenant. Tenants have more choice now; they could look at 100 buildings in Dubai but if there is one big tenant in town and they have needs you are able to meet, they will select that building over an inefficiently designed alternative,” he added.


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