Future of Architecture Summit recap

MECN recaps the first edition of the successful Future of Architecture Summit

The first edition of Middle East Consultant’s Future of Architecture Summit took place as a live event on September 15 at the Habtoor Grand Resort in Dubai. The event was sponsored by AECOM, ALEC FITOUT, JLL, KEO, K Tech Consulting, LWK+Partners, MZ Architects, National Engineering Bureau (NEB), Omnium International, RSP and U+A.

The inaugural event saw construction veterans from across the GCC come together across three panel discussions and two presentations. The event was MC’d by CPI Trade Media’s own Paul Godfrey and opened with a keynote address from Jamil Yousef Mohammed Jadallah, managing director/partner at National Engineering Bureau (NEB).

Following the keynote, the first panel discussion titled ‘Answering the Call of the new Normal’ began. The session was moderated by Tim Martin, principal and managing director at Gensler Middle East; he was joined by Ewa Juszczyk, project director at U+A, Fernando Freitas, Dubai branch director at Omnium International, Marina Kindelan, associate facades director at AESG, Ralf Steinhauer, director at RSP and Tony Abi Gebrayel, managing partner at MZ Architects.

The session ran for an hour which included a 10-minute Q&A session from the audience. Commenting on the summit following his session, Martin stated, “To me, events like this really kickstart important conversations. We all discuss these issues in isolation but to be able to come to a forum where you have a mixture of clients, designers and developers; to really help look at what the future of architecture will be like and to have great conversations that will ignite further development in the future is crucial.”

Following the first panel, Jonathan Keith, managing director at K Tech Consulting took the stage for a 10-minute presentation around current trends in IT and security design. He shared numerous insights on what effect these technologies will have of buildings and occupants, and what will be needed within buildings in the near future.

The second panel discussion titled ‘Function, Form and Everything in Between’ also ran for 60 minutes, which included a Q&A session with the audience. The session was moderated by Malini Karani, director of studies for Interior Design at Heriot-Watt University Dubai; she was joined by Hamed Parnian, associate director at Compass Project Consulting, Nathan Cartwright, executive director at NV5 Limited, Nikki Bisiker, founder and principal at Nikki Bisiker Interior Design and Tom Gilmartin, business development manager at ALEC FITOUT.

Speaking about her session, Karani stated, “A lot of these issues were relevant pre-pandemic but because of COVID-19 some of them have been sidetracked. We are looking at a lot more flexibility of user space now; whether we should work from home or not, and how do we go back to working in offices safely.”

The second panel discussion was followed by a 10-minute presentation by Craig Murphy, lead consultant at Socotec Consultancy. During his session Murphy talked about preventing the spread of fire and smoke through design and design innovations, and how these control factors are impacted through poor maintenance, poor refurbishment programs and sub-standard modifications.

The third and final session of the day ‘Cities of the Future’ was moderated by Amer Mneimneh, vice president, Urbanism + Planning, Middle East & Africa at AECOM Middle East. He was joined by Darryl Custer, executive director, Design Division at KEO International Consultants, Dr. Harpreet Seth, head of architecture at Heriot Watt University Dubai, Joe Tabet, founder and managing director at JT+Partners and Lee French, partner at Cundall.

Speaking about the event, he noted, “I’ve really learned a lot, I attended the session before mine that was on fire safety. It was quite enjoyable and I learned a lot about the issues in terms of what you observe when you walk into a building in terms of potential fire challenges and hazards that you face.”

He concluded, “What’s great about these events is that you have like-minded people sitting together exchanging ideas and addressing everyday challenges. We may have different opinions but nevertheless those opinions make things richer. By diversifying those ideas is how you come out with solutions to those problems.”


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