Persian Tehran Garden by Mohammad Khavarian and Hooman Balazadeh
Persian Tehran Garden by Mohammad Khavarian and Hooman Balazadeh

MEA Awards 2018 shortlist: Concept Design of the Year

We are pleased to announce the shortlist for the MEA Awards 2018, which will take place on Wednesday, November 21 in Dubai. This year, we have received 361 submissions across 13 categories from 132 companies throughout the region. The shortlist was created by the Middle East Architect editorial team and will be passed on to this year's judges for review and winners selection.

Here are the shortlisted nominees for Concept Design of the Year.

Golshahr Mosque and Plaza by Arash G Tehrani

Created by Iranian architect Arash G Tehrani, the Golshahr Mosque and Plaza was a concept proposal for a mosque competition in Alborz, Iran. Designed with thought and consideration toward traditional Persian mosque architecture and its modernisation, this contemporary design aims to be thoroughly integrated into its society and provide a peaceful place for gathering. According to the architect's submission, the design team wanted to create a contemporary, modern-day mosque and plaza without copying "unnecessary, ornamental elements" while still incorporating an Iranian architectural spirit. Its human-scale architecture, unpretentious material palette and consideration of the community were among its commendable qualities.  

Superform by REFORM

Designed by UAE-based architecture studio Reform, Superform is an exploration of creativity and location and pushes the boundaries of regional architecture. A theatre set in the coastal mountains of Oman, Superform comprises re-purposed shipping containers that are pre-fabricated and assembled on site with support from lattice booms. The architecture is alive and the form begins to evolve when stressed, manifesting the shifts in environmental conditions. Designed to respond to changes in climate, the suspended structure can survey the rising water levels. The multi-faceted planes are designed to spread out between the valley and protect the communities and wildlife from floods. The proposal also considers its community, and suggests how the transforming machine can integrate a performance space and encourage dwelling points within the structure.

Dubai Creek Mosque by Binchy and Binchy Architecture

Designed by Binchy and Binchy Architecture, this design proposal was completed for a competition for a mosque on Dubai Creek. The concept harnesses abstract materials of light and nature as a vehicle of symbolic meaning and spiritual experience. Inspired by the traditional prayer mat, the mosque aims to create a space of greenery and sunlight. According to the architects' submission, the Dubai Creek Mosque is a clear resolution of the client’s brief: to create an unparalleled, contemporary and "iconic structure that is uniquely Dubai". Situated on a green axis from Creek Park down to the mangroves, and aligned between the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Creek Tower, the mosque was designed as a complementary horizontal structure. Uniquely designed to be day lit from below, the prayer hall floor is made from one-way glass in order to create a floating, spiritual space.

ISF School by BAD. Built by Associative Data

The new school, designed by BAD. Built by Associative Data, for Doha, Lebanon caters to the educational needs of children of all ages and abilities, starting from kindergarten to primary and secondary school. In its completed state, the 18,000 m2 campus will provide education for up to 2,000 students with kindergarten, elementary school, secondary school and complementary facilities on a Greenfield site of 53,000 m2. Maximising the effects of the existing natural environment, a framework was defined that carefully places the programme of a modern campus as fragmented clusters in a rich green campus and parkland. Pavilion-like buildings are distributed across the park, creating fluidity between nature and educational spaces. The new campus buildings and the network of pedestrian pathways will provide accessibility to all areas for users of all abilities. The campus is designed to LEED Gold standards, not only to minimise energy consumption and the impact of the campus on the natural environment, but also to encourage children to engage with the scientific and technological aspects of green building design, promoting an in-depth understanding sustainable design.

Khor Fakkan Park by desert INK

Located on the east coast of the UAE, along the Gulf of Oman, the Khor Fakkan Park is one of the latest designs from desert INK. Keen to move away from the heavily planted, high-maintenance designs typically found in the region, the architects looked to create a blueprint for environmentally sustainable parks that embraces local materials and vegetation. A landslide of unstable, excavated rock dumped into the valley during adjacent road construction had severely compromised the otherwise pristine site, so desert INK’s approach was to turn this neglected landscape into an asset for the region. They then realised that the park should serve as an educational gateway to experience these species. According to the architects, very few people ever get close enough to the country's indigenous plant species to really appreciate them, and hence few actually know much about them. This park is intended to bring people into these seemingly inhospitable places and learn about the adaptive characteristics of these species. A series of boardwalks, sculptural plinths and compacted stone paths were devised to promote accessibility, while the team hoped to avoid mimicking nature. Rather than have architectural elements blend into the site and appear natural, the architects said they preferred to be honest about what was natural and what wasn’t – hence the angular, manmade forms in the valley.

Sheltainer by Bassel Omara, Mouaz Abouzaid and Ahmed Hammad

Created by Dubai-based architects Bassel Omara, Mouaz Abouzaid and Ahmed Hammad, Sheltainer, which aims to convert shipping containers into homes for refugees and displaced persons, was designed to support refugees, asylum seekers, students and people of low income jobs. Using the standard 20ft container, as well as the smaller 10ft variety and the larger 40ft crate for its structures, Sheltainer's designs can be adapted to any environment due to the container's flexibility and its ability to provide excellent insulation. Created last year, Sheltainer has been updated for 2018 to respond to Cairo's housing problem. According to the architects, over recent decades, an influx of people have gravitated towards the Cairo Necropolis -- the city’s oldest burial site, which dates back to the seventh century. Today, the number of residents in the Islamic cemetery amounts to around 1.5 million. The design, which suggests removing the graves from the centre of the city to create a 'new lung' that allows for better circulation, use of space and breathability, focuses on a single housing unit with all the necessary needs for a small family. Combined into one cluster, Sheltainer provides a small neighbourhood of eight homes surrounding a green courtyard. 

Floating Island by Kamran Heirati Architects

Designed for Salmanshahr, Iran, Floating Island by Kamran Heirati Architects, responds to the current economic crisis faced by the locals, who are gradually being led to leave behind their long lineage of agriculture and fishing to seek opportunity elsewhere. Intending to attract the community back and regenerate the local economy, the Floating Island is a mixed-use complex that stretches into the sea, combining a variety of social, commercial and residential spaces. With the water allowed into the structure, the design encourages interaction with the sea, in addition to the preservation of the area's traditional lifestyles. Featuring a modular design consisting of three metre cubes that jut in different directions, the complex incorporates a number of different opening towards the sea. The architects also designed the project to impact the coastline as little as possible by being lifted off the ground and allowing it to pass underneath the structure. 

Persian Tehran Garden by Hooman Balazadeh and Mohammad Khavarian

Designed by Hooman Balazadeh and Mohammad Khavarian for Tehran, Iran, the Persian Tehran Garden aims to connect the park and lake in Chitgar Recreational Zone. The main criteria was to create a platform for social interaction among the local city population. Taking into account the lost green space in the region, Balazadeh and Khavarian's strategy was to redefine Chitgar as the “Persian Garden of Tehran”, allowing the building to become a Persian pavilion, or Kooshk, which refers to a platform that overlooks the scenery in a garden. Two functional zones were created based on the site conditions: The main entrance, which includes underground parking areas with a number of access points to the green landscape on the ground level; and the pavilion and adjacent plaza. The connection between the park and lake is formed by extending the existing site roads onto elevated ramps, overlooking the natural landscape between the two landmarks. Volumetric spaces are scattered along the ramps, forming various socio-cultural activities around the site. According to the architects, these spaces provide a social platform for events, such as interactive art installations.