Blur Hotel by BAD. Built by Associative Data.
Blur Hotel by BAD. Built by Associative Data.

MEA Awards 2018 shortlist: Boutique Firm 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 Boutique Firm of the Year: 

AGi Architects 

Kuwait and Spain-based design firm AGi Architects was founded in 2006 by architects Joaquín Pérez-Goicoechea and Nasser B. Abulhasan. The studio currently has offices in Kuwait and Madrid, with a team comprised of less than 50 professionals. The firm's architecture is based on four founding pillars: innovation, an inherent life component, ecological consideration as well as social interventions and research. AGi Architects provide services in architecture, urban planning and design, interior design, research, consultancy and complementary services. The firm has designed various projects across Kuwait, ranging from private residences to healthcare building. Some of AGi's projects include Kuwait Children Hospital, GDIS. Kuwait General Information System Building, as well as a number of housing projects and villas such as the Wind Tower and Nirvana Home; both in Kuwait. The firm also designs a number of projects across Spain.

BAD. Built by Associative Data

BAD. Built by Associative Data is an international architecture and design practice with offices in Spain (Barcelona), Lebanon (Beirut), Ireland (Dublin) and China (Chengdu), with projects across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Its project scope includes research in computational tools, complex mixed-use projects, large master plans and sustainability framework structures like the Beirut Digital District. A key component to BAD.'s research initiatives is the implementation of new computational tools to aid in all stages of the design process, from early concept generation, project development through to construction, detailing and communication. The firm is continuously studying a wide range of applications and programmes in order to integrate the most sophisticated and advanced computational tools within its design services. Its research into active building systems (Building Automation Systems) enables to the firm formulate projects with embedded intelligence. BAD.'s projects include Blur Hotel in Beirut, Marfaa office building in Beirut, and Beirut Digital District.


Having been established in 2015, JT+Partners already has projects across the Middle East, North, East, and Central Africa, India, Sri Lanka, and the Seychelles. The firms projects span across residential, hospitality, commercial, mixed-use and master plan developments. The firm is passionate about sustainability and integrates design strategies into projects to achieve reduction in energy consumption and carbon emissions, while blending with its natural surroundings. The firm has recently entered the Africa market, with new projects that are locally specific in their design, working with local resources and materials. JT+Partners is also a fervent advocate of gender balance and empowering women and women in the architecture profession. Some of the firm's projects include Al Raha Waterfront Courtyard in Abu Dhabi, Maskeliya Resort in Sri Lanka,  and Corniche Al Qawassim in Ras Al Khaimah. 

L.E.D Architects

Established in 2010, L.E.D Architects is an Iranian architecture design firm based in Tehran with 13 employees, working on projects across Iran and Iraq. L.E.D has worked in various capacities and stages on a wide range of projects from landscape and urban design to villas, commercial towers, housing and interiors. Some of the firm's projects include Vozara Tower, Mirdamad Complex, Chasht Restaurant, Fast villa, Tosan Tajhiz Factory, Juan Apartment, and Mahalat Bazaar. L.E.D's Environmental Policy is based on a commitment to sustainable development to protect the environment, to minimise the waste of renewable and non-renewable resources and to reduce energy consumption.

LOCI architecture + design

LOCI is a Dubai-based practice operating in the fields of contemporary architecture, urban planning, interior architecture and product design. Established by Hani Fallaha and Hamad Khoory in 2012, LOCI is a culturally driven design-led studio that believes in the importance of context and the power of the locus to inform its design process and architecture. An international team of architects and designers, under the guidance of its design director Roger Doyle promotes regional design that relates to its local context. The studio is involved in a diverse range of projects from urban masterplans, commercial, education, residential, villas, high-end fit outs, and product design. Some of LOCI's projects include Abwab pavilion for Dubai Design Week, Zen Gardens for Tashkeel in Dubai, and the Plural Villa in Dubai.

Studio Toggle

Led by Gijo Pau; George and Hend Almatrouk, Kuwait-based Studio Toggle focuses on architecture, urbanism, and activism. Studio Toggle's work rejects non-functional ornamentation, while embracing technology, and architecture that responds to its surroundings. Advocating a 'democratisation of design', the firm also has a strong emphasis on sustainability, exploring and perfecting self-shading aesthetics which mitigates the heat gain caused by large openings typical of the studio’s language. These techniques are evident in the studio’s award winning projects like the F.LOT and the Edges Apartments. The studio also employs BIM based energy assessment tools to increase the energy efficiency of its buildings and is a strong proponent on using locally available building materials. The practice strives to use parametric and algorithmic design not just as a design tool but also as an aid in construction workflow, adopting low-tech and local methods. Studio Toggle’s vision is to be an integral part of the on-going urban transformation in Kuwait, and has recently established an office in Porto, with an aim to further its architectural agenda and its brand of 'urban activism' to Europe and beyond.