URBANE Point Of View
Always having been drawn to design – not just architectural – Ala Eddin Mansour’s keen eye and appreciation for composition and aesthetic in general saw him following his childhood passion to express oneself in a creative manner. Starting off with creating structures from simple Lego blocks and sketching hundreds of fantasy cars as a child, to chasing his fascination with design and becoming one of the most celebrated architects in the region, Ala Eddin’s unwavering devotion to his art is prominent through his sophisticated and innovative designs. The award-winning architect spoke to Perle Magazine about his work, zeal for art, and persistence to ensure his designs emulate the surrounding to result in eye-catching and truly innovative structures.
With a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering from Yarmouk University in Jordan, Ala Eddin always sought to create his own architectural identity. His perseverance landed him the opportunity to work at Dar Al-Omran, under the mentorship of distinguished architect, Rasem Badran. His experience at Dar Al Omran, Ala Eddin says, allowed him to understand the true essence of architecture as he worked on multiple projects, around several countries, that allowed him to develop designs that complemented and reflected their environments. By 1999, he moved to Bahrain and worked within some of the country’s best architectural firms on various residential, commercial, multi-purpose, cultural, and religious projects, before co-founding Design Studio – Architects (DSA), in 2011 alongside his wife, and architect, Manar Sirriyeh.
Sharing a unanimous ethos for practical and timeless design, the architect explains that through DSA they offer a boutique design experience with a team consisting of architects, designers, and engineers, each with their own unique approach. “We decided to set up DSA because we were and still are eager to leave an imprint on the architectural world, which is the living world really since architecture permeates every second of our lives, an imprint that is shaped by our experiences, visions and aspirations,” he says. Ala Eddin has worked on large-scale projects such as The Justice Palace and Al-Jame’ Mosque in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, whereas some of the projects in Bahrain include Royal University for Women, Seef Mall extension, and Al Zamil Tower on which he worked with acclaimed architect, Ahmed Bucheery. The architect also designed the Grove Residential Compound in Hamala, and the award-winning villa for Sheikha Haya Bint Rashid Al Khalifa.
Incorporating his core aesthetic of creating designs that truly correspond to their context, he says: the initial process of design looks at the environment, climate, and culture, as well as the function of the structure, and the needs of the end-users. He adds DSA carries out an extensive research to really understand what the clients are looking for, the feasibility of the project, and thoroughly analyse all the elements that come together in order to initiate the design process.
The talented architect’s focus on designing a structure with a purpose that far exceeds its visual appeal, great eye for detail, and turning a vision of the client into a tangible product is the what earned him the International Property Award 2015-2016. He received the title ‘Best in Arabia’ and the 5-Star Award at the Arabian Property Awards and as a result qualified to the International Property Awards in London, where he became the first Arab to receive the title ‘World’s Best’ for the category Architecture Single Residence. For the Arabian Property Awards, the entries were received from companies in 12 countries across Arabia and winning entrants were to be presented with either a ‘Highly Commended’ or ‘5-Star’ award. The top scoring 5-star winners would then go forward to represent Arabia in the 2015-2016 International Property Awards, competing against other regional winners from Africa, Europe, Canada, the Caribbean, USA, Central & South America, the UK, and Asia Pacific to find the ultimate World’s Best in each category.
The final ceremony held at London’s Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square, hosted the best property professionals from around the globe. Design Studio – Architect’s entry was amongst more than 490 entries from 75 countries for Architecture, and 2000 entries overall from over 110 countries in the year 2015. His unwavering vigour and impeccable sense of design were rightfully validated upon being awarded. “I am empowered now to speak more freely of my approach and hoping to be more of an influence towards the sound architecture in the region alongside the select few of architects who abide by similar principles.”
The award-winning villa, belonging to Shaikha Haya Bint Rashid Al Khalifa, was designed keeping in mind the concept of the “courtyard”. The contemporary house was built around the traditional courtyard, where all the rooms and halls overlook and interact with the outdoors. Additionally, the surrounding historical buildings on-site were also incorporated in the spirit of the design, the plantation was preserved up to 99% and was utilised to serve the new garden, and not a single tree was removed, rather kept as also part of the new composition of the entire house. Paying close attention to elements such as whether or not the design corresponds to the urban fabric, surroundings, and environmental conditions, Ala Eddin meticulously studied the existing site to design a villa that fits the context.
The new construction ensured that no direct sunlight was to hit the wide windows, yet still making sure sufficient daylight was allowed into the house. Being a master of his craft, he successfully achieved that by designing the house in a manner to provide a balance of shade and sunlight. He elaborates, “the courtyard is a traditional concept which corresponds to the elements of ample light, shade, and privacy it flows with them, and designing and building modern architecture does not mean that these elements have to be overlooked at the expense of having a modern-looking building that does not serve the climatic and cultural aspects of the site.” The cultural element that was tied into the house came through the construction of a swimming pool, positioned to have complete privacy, with the courtyard enhancing cross-ventilation, while the shaded area provides a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
Appreciating every opportunity to being able to express his exceptionally creative skills, Ala Eddin adds that one of the most satisfying parts about being an architect is to have the ability to influence the inhabited environment of communities, leaving behind a long-lasting imprint.
DSA is currently working on several projects around Bahrain, he adds: architectural design is at the heart of most of our daily interactions as we move through spaces such as our homes, schools, places of work, and these interactions affect us somehow and thus makes this field responsible for creating the visual and inhabited environment.
From his years of experience and hands-on working methods resulting in his unmatched expertise, Ala Eddin advises newcomers into the profession to start paying more attention to the pollution of the visual and inhabited environment. As architects, he notes, we are responsible for not only the overall aesthetic of this environment but also for providing buildings that are efficient in their need and use of resources, and it is necessary to ensure that the basis upon which successful architectural design is measured upon – the balanced elements, those that reflect a compatibility with the environment, as well as being designed in a manner that serves the functionality of the structure and end-users – is being maintained from design, to construction, to final product.
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