Dubai Design Week, The Shape of Things to Come | Carl Gerges Architects

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Preserving the past environment while reinventing its modern structures, Carl Gerges Architects is one of the studio to watch at Dubai Design Week. We caught up with his founder Carl Gerges ahead of his exhibit, to find out more about his work.



Villa Nadia by Carl Gerges Architects



By Olivia Melkonian



How do you maintain using natural resources in a world that is so keen on technological advancements?

CG: One does not preclude the other. These types of materials are compatible with modern day technology, and have tremendously evolved during the last decade. I find them to be reassuring and noble, they age gracefully, and most importantly they are sustainable. As we look to how we may live in the future, it is important that our solutions as architects and designers respond to our culture, context and heritage. Choosing to work with locally sourced materials instead of relying on imported construction resources for example, will have a sustainable impact on our industry in the long run.





“The new designs that will emerge after this excruciatingly difficult phase we’re going through will be even more intimate, and will aim at bringing people closer again.”






Do you think some of the personal aspects of your designs will be lost when designing spaces that support social distancing?

CG: We design buildings predisposed to resist disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and fires, but we don’t do the same for extraordinary events like wars and pandemics. Could you imagine how a war-proof building would look in times of peace? Or living in spaces that support social distancing when there isn’t a pandemic? Design has the ability to affect one’s emotions and well being, and designing for extreme catastrophes will undeniably leave a negative impact on people’s lives. The new designs that will emerge after this excruciatingly difficult phase we’re going through will be even more intimate, and will aim at bringing people closer again.



What are some ways in which we can respect culture and heritage in our natural environments while also incorporating modern elements of interaction?


CG: Constantly pushing the era forward isn’t always progress. We stand between the future and the past; the future lies ahead of us, but behind us there is a great accumulation of history. A precious resource for imagination and creativity. Heritage in Beirut has been under constant threat, not only of gentrification, but also of neglect, abandonment, and corruption. The streets of Gemmayze and Mar Mikhael did offer some of the last spaces in which traditional Lebanese houses were celebrated and inhabited. And yet only a few days after the devastating Beirut explosion, there were already reports of real-estate agencies beginning to sweep the site, counting on the inhabitants’ desperation to sell their properties and to leave the area. The new world doesn’t need just another new building, it needs developments that can be truly sustained. It’s through elaborating new forms of social and urban living that we will be able to preserve and encourage our past and architectural heritage.





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