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ADVANCING ARCHITECTURE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

With a number of projects in the Levant region, including Palestine, LACASA Architects are raising the bar of the local architecture & design landscape.

June 2015

LACASA is a quality-driven international Architectural & Engineering firm based in Dubai with offices in Qatar, KSA, Syria, Libya, Sudan, and Australia.

Founded only nine years ago by Emad Jaber & Nabil Al Khaja, the firm prides itself on its diverse talent from across MENA and its collective aim of contributing to the advancement of architecture in the region.

LACASA has a diverse portfolio spanning all types of developments and to date has designed over 250 projects consisting of residential, commercial, hospitality, and mixed-use developments as well as master plans and interior designs. Cityscape takes a look at their projects in the Levant.

Palace Residences, Amman, Jordan

The Palace Residences is a luxurious residential development in the elite Jabal Amman neighbourhood whose design draws on the project’s unique surroundings.

“Both the fact that the project was to be located in a heritage area as well as the fact that it was going to be super luxurious played a role in the architectural language we chose,” commented Ihab Nayal, Principal Designer at LACASA Architects, Dubai and designer of the Palace Residences.

The project features 19 high-end apartments on a 3,500 sqm plot and was completed in 2012. Renowned Jordanian stone was chosen as the external building material which lent itself perfectly for achieving the desired look.

“When it comes to stone as a building material, the way to achieve a greater sense of luxury is through carvings. The more intricate carvings, the more luxurious the look,” said Nayal, adding that he decided against his initial impulse to follow a slightly more contemporary style in order to make use of the richness of the stone.

“We kept on experimenting for quite some time until we decided to go with a style that could be described as a ‘refurbishment style,’ which looks as if it was an existing historical building which had been refurbished with contemporary details such as stainless steel handrails, minimalistic light fittings and glass canopies. Through this we feel that we got the best of both worlds: a mix between a purely classical building and contemporary elements,” Nayal said.

Creating a building which looked authentically historic was quite a challenge the designer added, and required lot of research. To add the desired refurbished look, Nayal came up with a unique idea. “In order to give the building this specific refurbished look, I had the idea of enclosing the entire façade of the fourth floor with glass. Like a piece in a museum that cannot be touched because it is protected by glass. Although this was quite complicated to realise, we decided to go with it,” the designer explained.

The stark contrast between the historical and contemporary is definitely what makes this project unique. Apart from its unique refurbished look, the Palace Residences stands out for its spacious and elegant entrance area which is made up of a 500-metre arcade with a welcoming garden and water features. Residents can also enjoy a swimming pool and health club, gymnasium, sauna and steam room along with 24-hour security and two covered parking spaces per apartment.

Palace Residences Ramallah, Palestine

In Palestine, where luxurious residential developments are still scarce, LACASA recently completed the Palace Residence in Ramallah.

When designing the project, Sara Ahmed, Senior Concept Architect at LACASA Architects in Dubai, says great attention was paid to respecting the culture of the Palestinian people.

“You cannot build the same residential apartment everywhere – it has to be aligned with the particular local culture of where it is built,” she explained. “When it comes to Arab cultures, the most important thing is privacy. The concept of the ‘majlis’ for example embodies this idea of separation. It means guests can enter the formal area without ever having to enter the private realm of their hosts.”

With regards to the architecture, LACASA wanted to introduce something new, elegant and outstanding to the Palestinian market, “which is why we went for a contemporary style,” Sara Ahmed explained.

For her, working on a project in Palestine was a unique experience. “One advantage of building in Palestine is that the time span from inception of the design to completion of construction is very short, i.e. the project is realised very fast. This is because the market is virgin and there aren’t a lot of real estate projects. For us architects it’s great to see your project being built in front of your eyes,” she said.

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