Interview with designer Elie Saliba (ES), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Al Zahraa Multiple Residence.

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Interview with Elie Saliba at Thursday 3rd of March 2016: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
ES : The main idea behind the project was the creation of an introverted residential compound for expats where bachelors and working families can coexist within the highly conformist values of KSA , and where privacy is the prime concern.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
ES : Reviving the concept of attached dwellings, typical of old Middle Eastern cities.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
ES : Working with more confidence on the development of the identity of residential architecture.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
ES : Three weeks.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
ES : Commissioned by the client

DI: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
ES : The project will be built by the developer, which is the client.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
ES : We have been working for a while now on the development of the residential identity in the Middle East,

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
ES : The works of several architects have been inspirational throughout our journey to find this new identity. Among them, Moshe Safdie's Habitat 67, the village of Chefchaouen (Morocco), as well as most of the old Arabian cities.

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
ES : Working families, expats and high ranking corporate officials.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
ES : We were able to attain a new identity, merging middle eastern heritage with contemporary architecture.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
ES : The name was set by the client, in regards to the region the project resides in.

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
ES : Everything starts with layout sketching, perspective drawings on butter paper, then thoroughly translated into CAD drawings, and finally into 3D computer graphics, in order to visualize all aspects of the design.

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
ES : Volumetric proportions and harmony within the materials used

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
ES : The design was all made in-house, after thorough discussions between the designers. For the technical aspects of the development, we opted to collaborate with Arabtec Jardaneh later on.

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
ES : The main idea was to minimize the use of technology to the bare minimum, sticking to the most appropriate environmental impact and cost.

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
ES : The research took two tolls, looking deep into the old rural Arabian architecture on one hand, and the contemporary use of large glazing and solids on the other hand.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
ES : Maintaining the privacy of all units within the compound itself as well as towards the urban street.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
ES : The large amount of effort put into the project, the final outcome which was satisfactory to the whole team internally as well as the praise we received from the client himself.

DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
ES : Working on a large scale residential development, while always aiming to create a multitude of a single module, thus cost efficient for construction, and that can be expressed differently, therefor avoid visual repetitiveness.