The first ever forum in Oman for young architects ‘Inspiring Spaces’, was held at Bait Al-Zubair on the 4th April. The forum was convened by Oman’s leading real estate developer ALARGAN TOWELL Investment Company to nurture and develop the real estate and architecture sectors in the Sultanate.
The ‘Inspiring Spaces’ forum was held under the auspices of His Excellency Eng. Mohamed Bin Salim Al Busaidi, Member of the Shura Council and Chairman of Oman Real Estate Association (ORA). The event was also attended by a number of experts and specialists in the field of architectural design as well as students currently studying architecture from different universities and colleges from across Muscat.
Delivering his opening remarks, HE Eng. Mohamed Bin Salim Al Busaidi commented, “The importance of conducting forums such as these provides many positive benefits for the participants; offering them an opportunity to learn through other’s experiences in the field and by stimulating discussions that follow the presented papers. I was particularly impressed with the high level of technical and thought-provoking discussions the students held with the presenters. This is a clear indication that the sector has a bright future ahead. I also commend ALARGAN TOWELL for organising such an event; one that is clearly in line with the vision and objectives of ORA, in seeking to develop the real estate sector in the Sultanate.”
Commenting on the aim of the ‘Inspiring Spaces’ forum, Abeer Al Balushi, Head of Marketing at ALARGAN TOWELL Investment Company noted, “Our aim with organising such forums is to gather the visions and experiences of experienced and renowned architects in one location for the benefit of the architectural students of Oman. This setting give the students a unique opportunity to learn first-hand the many different perspectives on architectural concepts and talk with highly experienced and successful architects. As a company specialising in real estate development, we feel that contributing towards developing the views and ideas of architecture students and gaining a better understanding of how they think is an essential part of our job. This is especially important when you consider that these students, who are on the verge of graduation, are the ones who will design and enrich the real estate sector of the country in the years to come.”
The first session involved two working papers, the first of which was presented by Eng. Muhammad Al Salmy, Partner and General Manager of Hoehler + alSalmy. The paper was titled ‘The Challenge of Identity in Architecture; The Omani experience’. He discussed in his paper the Omani identity within architecture of the past and the present, the impact of traditional architectural elements on modern architectural products, and the current extent and benefits of blending traditional Omani architecture with modern architectural themes.
Engineer Haitham Al Busafi, Founder of Al Busafi Design Company, then presented his paper titled ‘Beyond the Sketch’ in which he reviewed many of his innovative works. He also discussed his design method utilising computer-aided technologies instead of traditional methods. He focused his discussion on a singular question – Can one be just as creative using computers as they can with traditional architectural drawing?
The second session witnessed the presentation of two additional papers; the first of which was titled ‘Design Thinking for Architects’ and presented by Prof. Nikolaus Knebel, Assistant Professor at GUTech. He said that the continued development of design thought is the basis of creativity and is the stimulator for achieving outstanding levels of performance in the art of architecture, just as it is in other arts. Then the floor was opened for discussions and questions from the audience.
The forum sessions concluded with a paper presented by Engineer Hisham Moussa, CEO of ALARGAN TOWELL Investment Company, titled ‘Architectural Design, Practice vs. Study’. In his presentation, Hisham discussed the link between architecture at the academic stage with the commercial market. He also pointed out that the architectural education does not end after graduating from university, but is considered the real beginning that moulds the personality of the professional. He added there is no replacement for the practical knowledge obtained by actual experience in the field.
On the side-lines of the event was an exhibition presented by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA); opened in collaboration with the German University of Technology (GUtech). The exhibition included a collection of award winning works from RIBA during 2016, in addition to notable works that participated in the awards. Toured by the chief guest and forum participants, the exhibition won the admiration of all visitors. This was the first time that the Sultanate has hosted such a prominent international exhibition, one that held in its first session in the United Kingdom, before moving through several countries including Australia, Bulgaria, China, France, Singapore, and more.
Hisham Moussa commented, “We are delighted with the successful conclusion of the forum and we would like to thank each and every one who contributed towards making it happen. In particular, we thank His Highness Engineer Mohammed Bin Salim Al Busaidi who was the chief guest of the forum. We would also like to thank each of the speakers, educational institutions, engineers, and students who participated in and attended the event.”
ALARGAN TOWELL Investment Company was formed in 2003 in the Sultanate of Oman as an equal partnership between ALARGAN International Real Estate Company and the reputed W.J.Towell Company. The company activity focuses on securing housing opportunities for middle-income Omani citizens at reasonable prices. This innovative partnership led to the construction of a number of successful and integrated projects such as Beyout Al Faye, Al Waha project, Al Mawalih Villa’s project, Al Hail homes project and Al Qurum Gardens project. Additionally, the company is currently preparing the Al Nakheel project which is the latest Integrated Tourism Complex (ITC) project in the Wilayat of Barka.