Studio visit: GAJ Architects
In celebration of GAJ’s 25 year anniversary, DesignMENA decided to pay the office a visit and see where some of the oldest and most iconic structures in the UAE were created.
Although the company started out in a much smaller office near Maktoum bridge, its current office is located at the Iridium building and occupies half of the first floor. The employees at the office increased from 70 to 202 in the last four years, and although GAJ has offices all over the MENA region, the main office is set in Dubai.
The office itself exudes the same high level of quality and taste as the one that can be observed throughout its many projects in the region. With bursts of dark red against light coloured wood, GAJ’s office displays a mixture of tradition and modernity that is found in all its interior and architectural projects. It is both sophisticated and modern.
One can see the level of triumph and scope of projects by the many awards and trophies displayed proudly in the reception area as. A large-scale model of its creek redevelopment project is displayed for visitors to admire.
GAJ’s office is like a long journey through the company’s long history in the region, starting from the admin area on the right, and continuing straight past the architecture division, MEP and interior design, which has its own reception area.
“We are definitely the largest privately owned company in the MENA region,” said Andrew Barley, partner at GAJ. “We have some people who have worked here for 20 yeas.”
Because of the large scale projects and number of employees, GAJ would appear as a more corporate-led office but looking at the inner-workings of the company, it is clearly a place where everyone has something to contribute to build an idea together.
“GAJ is completely transparent,” Barley said. “We have no hierarchy, we are all the same, we are open plan. This is very serious. We all draw together and share ideas. Brian [Johnson, managing partner at GAJ] will sit with everyone and he will draw. He will cut paper. There are no prima donna’s here.”