Rima Alsammarae, editor of Middle East Architect
Rima Alsammarae, editor of Middle East Architect

Comment: This year’s MEA Awards presented the possibility of architecture as a means to bridge cultures

The Middle East Architect Awards recently held its 11th edition on 21 November 2018 at the Ritz Carlton DIFC in Dubai, UAE. The 13 categories, 82 shortlisted nominations, and the hundreds of attendees served as regional representatives of the industry, coming together to congratulate one another and celebrate the achievements of the past year.

From Palestine to Lebanon, Turkey to Iran, the UAE to Kuwait, shortlisted and winning entries echoed the success of the region’s established and emerging talent, despite the nuanced cultural differences shared among those who contributed to the awards programme.

Celebrating architectural feats that triumphed over poor economies, conservatism and barely-there budgets was the backbone of the evening – the night championed the immense effort that individuals from border to border have relentlessly imbued their work with.

The positivity of the awards programme lies in its meaningful endeavour to bridge cultures and connect architects of different backgrounds, all the while highlighting the beautiful and creative built landscape of the region and those designing it.

From the Contemporary District in Dubai’s Al Seef to Valiasr Mosque in Tehran and the Terrace Villa in Lebanon, this year's winning projects have wonderfully raised the standard of built work in the region – no longer is it enough to just incorporate a building into its context, but rather, professionals are now seeking ways to maintain the context in the first place. It potentially signifies a pattern of architects working without ego. They are no longer trying to “stamp” the landscape, but preserve it.