Architecture, Contextual architecture, Design, Dubai, RSP, UAE

Design should respond to culture, nature and context says RSP’s Farah Al-Khoury

“I haven’t completely understood what my design style is,” said Farah Al-Khoury, junior architect at RSP in Dubai. “But I think design requires research and being critical and responsive. It requires figuring out what the most appropriate solution is – whether that’s a response to culture, context, history or nature. Architecture is the tool that creates an interface between people and the environment.”

Born in Iraq, Al-Khoury’s family moved to Dubai when she was a child. Involved in the arts since an early age, Al-Khoury attributes the environment she surrounded herself with for sparking her creative interests.
An avid drawer, she’s long spent her time with artists, storytellers and performers. Upon graduating from AUS in 2016, Al-Khoury joined RSP almost immediately. Some of Al-Khoury’s work in the time since includes a 30-metre “sculpture-billboard” and a medical retreat in Dubai.

“RSP has provided me with the opportunity to convey my ideas. I got involved with the design team, where my voice was heard and considered. Thanks to the open environment there, I’ve been able to work on a range of commercial, residential and institutional projects. Some were definitely eye-opening.”

An artist at heart, she notes Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Blur project in Switzerland, and Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Floating Piers as inspiring. Very much drawn to projects that approach architecture via an abstract, or even surrealist lens, Al-Khoury has an eye for the unconventional.

“I also appreciate it when architecture is thought of from an anthropological perspective,” she added. “Meaning it deals with looking at architecture as an artefact to record and study the evolution of society, and the evolution of human behaviour. This is one of the ideas Toyo Ito had conveyed when he said, ‘Architecture is the proof of the existence of human beings’.”

In addition to her RSP projects, Al-Khoury continues to participate in work that isn’t necessarily architectural. “I was recently a part of a project that included an international group of six creatives from Italy called Floating Mountains,” she said.

“It dealt with landscape and was mostly performance art. I think these kind of projects help nurture a different perspective toward architecture.”