Page 50 - Simply Abu Dhabi Magazine VI

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n Issue IV of Simply Abu Dhabi, we
showcased some of the incredible residential
and commercial developments happening in
Abu Dhabi. Now meet the man who turns
developers’ dreams into realities. Mr. Ali Reda,
founding partner of a r + d, is the architectural
genius behind Abu Dhabi Eco Resort, Aldars Al
Gurm Resort, Al Raha Gardens and the
inspirational Desert PalmDubai Polo Estate.
a r + d
is an architectural firm that refines the traditions of modernism to
elemental simplicity, while transforming materials and surfaces through
the exploration of new treatments and techniques. Singapore-based
Australian architect Ali Reda is the founding partner of a r +d. The practice
has just turned 10 years.
“Our work maintains throughout the stable qualities that have always been
associated with us: conceptual precision, formal clarity and pristine
detailing,” he says, explaining the presiding ethos of his firm.
Through the Simply AbuDhabi publication, Ali addresses issues pertaining
to architecture in the region, stressing the need to create homogeneous
and sympathetic visions. He also shares his life experiences, which seem
to have given him a heightened sensibility for allowing nature to intertwine
with structures.
Ali is known for his attention to the human side of design and
incorporating nature into his work. His structures are open and organic,
evoking the kind of uplifting spirituality that is needed now as much as it
ever was. He begins by outlining his views on culture. Since culture is what
distinguishes human societies from nature, for an architect it is an
absolutely fundamental idea.
“Culture is the understanding and empathy you have towards others,” he
says. “Culture is in your surroundings, it is also in your next door
neighbour. Culture is always weighed against what has occurred
He is enthusiastic about the new possibilities for culture created by the
modern world:
“We must have empathy towards complete environments,” he says. “I do
not agree with those who say that cultures are clashing. I would say that
they are merging into a nice global culture.”
As befits someone who always wants to put people at the heart of what he
does, he believes that technology should enable and empower us, rather
than tie us down. For Ali Reda, it’s quality, not quantity, that counts. He
says of his firm:
“It can be summed up by saying that our company is about honest and
simple architecture. What makes us unique is the fact that we always create
projects that are respectful of the culture and heritage of the region we are
in - and that’s exactly what we did for Abu Dhabi.”
Make no mistake, though: he may take a humble approach to his work,
but this only strengthens his absolute faith in the power of architecture to
transform lives:
“Architecture is the tool which enables you to create a place for people to
inhabit,” he says. “It also goes far beyond that. Architecture essentially
needs to uplift the individual and give him or her a sense of joy, and a sense
of purpose. Whether you are creating a work or play environment,
architecture has to give some happiness or delight as it transposes positive
thoughts on people.”
“You have to approach it from a very considerate position,” continues Ali Reda.
That might sound like a strange thing to say regarding a part of the world which is
known for its striking architectural structures and often its sheer opulence, but he
has a powerful motivating belief that architecture should be a subtle force, adapting
itself to existing conditions:
“Don't be surprised at my vocabulary,” he insists. “Using the term ‘considerate’ is
very appropriate. You have to approach each task in its own way as each one is quite
For Ali Reda, it’s important for the architect firstly to get to know his brief as deeply
as possible. Only then should one begin to devise an elegant solution. It’s not
about imposing one’s self on the environment, but rather fitting into and enhancing
the existing rhythms in each different situation he encounters.
“I observe a lot and identify what elements are most relevant to the person, his or
her culture and climate,” he says. And his favourite metaphor illustrates that he is
not at all interested in the short-lived headline. He is a man who wants his work
to endure:
“Good architecture is like that piece of clothing that you just cannot throw away,”
he says. “I think it was Louis Khan who said that ‘you judge a building by imagining
what kind of ruin it would make’.”
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