Simon Fraser speaks to Arabpolitecture about Hopkins Architects, the recession and how Dubai will move forwards.
Tucked away a hundred metres or so around the corner from Noor Islamic bank metro station lies Hopkins Architects Dubai. The ‘Eastern’ hub of Sir Michael Hopkins global architectural firm Hopkins Architects and it’s managing director Simon Fraser have a substantial cumulative and regionally nuanced architectural presence in the region. Hopkins Architects moved to Dubai in 2005 and have executed a wide range of projects that include villas, skyscrapers, business villages and master planning.
Dubai can be an incredibly frustrating and yet also rewarding place to be an architect, in the formative years of any mega city development to have a degree of imprint on the design and physicality of the city is an incredible privilege, Simon Fraser has been able to position himself and the firm in a unique position that not only capitalises on the invisible relationships developed on rapport and contacts, but also on the ups and downs of this exciting city. Whilst downsizing in what was most likely a traumatic period during the crash, Hopkins Architects and its multitude of talented architects, planners and skilled crafts(people) nevertheless maintained a footprint and a connection to the city which meant that when things pick up (as they are now) the company is well positioned to pick up a plethora of projects that will inevitably follow.
One can’t help but worry about the environmental credentials of such an opulent city, but Simon points out that there is now at least movement towards a general consensus in trying to limit environmental damage in a region with extreme climates, and as he quite rightly points out, cities in extreme cold climates don’t get as much criticism for resorting to extreme heating methodologies, although conversely issues of sustainability tend to be much more developed in these regions.
Hopkins architects are now uniquely positioned to help move this city of a million possibilities into a direction that can make it hit the headlines not just for tallest/biggest/shiniest but for greenest, most sustainable, most ecologically sound. That would be a legacy that could perhaps rival the fantastic velodrome in London.