Interview: Atef Khedhir, LACASA
The spaces between buildings which allow for human interaction are as much a part of architecture as the structures themselves, says Lacasa’s Atef Khedhir.
The 38-year-old Tunisian-born urban designer feels that this concept is one that architects need to explore more fully – starting at the master-planning stage.
“Architects give a lot of attention to buildings and of course that is natural,” he says. “But to me, the spaces between are more important.
“That is where interaction between people occurs. In Dubai this is one thing that I feel is lacking. The city is a series of separate communities rather than a connected urban environment. To get between them people use their cars or take a taxi.
“But you look at, say, London or New York. There is so much more connectivity in people’s day-to-day lives. This is better for local shops and it’s better for people – walking or cycling, which I really like to do, is healthier for one thing.”
Clients also have a part to play in improving people’s lives through a more connected urban environment, says Khedhir.
“It shouldn’t always be about the maximum usage of a plot,” he explains. “It should never be forgotten than on any project’s completion there are people living, working, or using the building. There was a project I was working on recently – quite a small one – 11 buildings but they took up most of the available land.
“So I conceived the idea of a roof garden linking them – a way of bringing people together.
“Architecture is about people. Functionality is, of course, essential but so are emotions – how we feel about a building, that is what matters to me.”
Atef Khedhir attended the Tunisian national School of Architecture and Urban Planning after being drawn to the profession through a love of drawing. “Art was an option,” he says. “ But the study of architecture combined that creativity with science and that truly appealed to me.” Among his recent projects is a school in Palestine which is set to attract expats by providing top-class educational facilities.