Gensler strategically reinvents warehouse for new studio in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai
“At Gensler, we are one global community, and we are united by our commitment to enhance the human experience and well-being for all. During this time of global transformation, the power of design plays a unique and profound role, and we continue to cultivate a culture of design innovation to promote diverse thinking and curiosity. What better place to implement this than our own new studio!” said Tim Martin, Managing Director of Gensler Middle East.
As designers, we asked ourselves, “how can we not only create a flexible working space that supports our different ways of working but also, how can we look at repurposing and adapting an existing building to create unique, sustainable experiences?” We collaborated with JLL, Alserkal Avenue, and Al Tayer Stocks to create a new space for our studio in Dubai.
Why Community is So Important? These have been difficult times but through our agility, collaborative culture, design excellence, and unmatched thought leadership, we have demonstrated, unequivocally, our strength as a global design force. Market challenges created an opportunity for our designers to react with positivity to reinvent spaces. We recognised that as designers, we have the power to shape the future of our communities by researching and harnessing new ideas that would respond to this moment in time and its impact on the future.
Gensler’s Middle East Workplace Survey released by Gensler Research Institute and Work from Home Survey highlighted what people miss most is indeed social interaction. In the middle east, retail spaces and hotels were severely affected by the lack of travel presenting an opportunity for the edgy, arty spaces captivate a restless local audience. Alserkal Avenue, being a regional hub of art, creativity, and community presented a perfect opportunity for Gensler to reinvent. The concept of Alserkal Avenue adds a new dimension to a vibrant community of entrepreneurs – a place where businesses continue to challenge and disrupt industries who collectively contribute to the growing creative economy of Dubai, and the region. The neighborhood has nurtured a culture of creativity and is now Gensler’s new community. An unexpected venue for the leading global architecture, design, and planning firm with 50 locations and more than 6,000 professionals networked across Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and the Americas. In the pursuit of sustainable development, communities have much to gain from an approach of repurposing. In many ways, an adaptive-reuse project can invigorate our communities by responding innovatively.
“Despite being the largest global design practice, Gensler is curiously local and being immersed in a community such as Alserkal Avenue reinstates our renewed purpose and commitment in the region’s success. What appealed to us was how we can creatively adapt a warehouse to create an extraordinary working experience whilst becoming part of a creative community of entrepreneurs.” Diane Thorsen, Gensler Design Director
Gensler were able to secure a fantastic unit at Alserkal Avenue where they have created something special and different, creating a real-life case study. Alserkal Avenue’s success is evident in their passion to maintain the ethos of their community. Their selection process includes assessing how each member of the community will play a significant role in contributing to the wider community by engaging with fellow occupiers and participating in events and providing local and global examples. Gensler’s bold move from a conventional office tower to a light, industrial unit, will not only shape the future of our communities, but it will also allow businesses to reimagine the future of how we live, work and play”.
The design team approached the space as we would for any client by first understanding the needs of the users. Joyce Jarjoura and Natalie Mansoor, Gensler’s workplace design consultants, gathered data and provided the findings, which enabled Design Directors Diane Thorsen and Jose Faine to create a space focused on the needs of the team. We asked ourselves “what if the office of the future could flatten structures and embrace diversity as our lessons learned? Since there’s no corner office on a Zoom meeting and virtual work means work anywhere anytime.”
A simple finishes palette of concrete screed floors, white painted walls, circadian rhythm lighting, and flexible sustainable furniture creates a beautiful, well-lit, creative space. A space that reflects our values and focusses on being a part of a creative community where the emphasis is on how our people feel and engage in a space. A simple Gensler red portal was created to frame the entrance. It sits proudly at the entrance of our warehouse corrugated façade to identify our location. We simply can’t be missed. The Runway Inspired by the opportunity to engage in community events and share our expertise, we created a space large enough to host events and showcase design.
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Alserkal Avenue kicks off a fresh new season of art with Alserkal Lates
Alserkal Avenue will kick off a fresh new season with Alserkal Lates starting from September 19, 2020.
The galleries will be open from 10am-10pm, as to make sure that visitors have plenty of time and space to explore all the new exhibitions on show in Alserkal Avenue. Participating galleries include Lawrie Shabibi, Grey Noise, Zawyeh Gallery, Green Art Gallery, 1×1 Art Gallery, Gulf Photo Plus, Ishara Art Foundation, Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, SVENM, Showcase, Ayyam Gallery, CHI-KA, Carbon 12, and Elmarsa Gallery, among others.
Alserkal Avenue is also opening the doors to the Alserkal Arts Foundation exhibition, New Waves: Mohamed Melehi and the Casablanca Art School Archives. The show opens during Alserkal Lates and runs until October 10, 2020, in Concrete.
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Mohamed Melehi exhibition to open in Alserkal Avenue in September 2020
Alserkal Arts Foundation will present New Waves: Mohamed Melehi and the Casablanca Art School Archives in Concrete, Alserkal Avenue in Dubai, from 19 September – 10 October 2020. Curated by Zamân Books & Curating, the exhibition tells the story of the radical Casablanca Art School, retracing Melehi’s career chronologically, from the 1950s to the 1980s.
Melehi is widely regarded as a major figure of postcolonial Moroccan art and of transnational modernism. Previously unseen works and archives present Melehi as a painter, photographer, muralist, graphic and urban designer, art teacher, and cultural activist.
This retrospective exhibition brings a pioneering artist’s multi-faceted career to life, giving UAE audiences a unique insight into a practice that feels critical and relevant for contemporary concerns in this region. The Dubai chapter of the exhibition presents Melehi’s documentary photography – through his travels, and activism – as well as highlights from his graphic design studio SHOOF, and the remarkable murals of the Asilah festival. This expanded research allows new insight into the experimental spirit of the Casablanca Art School as they challenged convention and collaborated to produce radical forms of pedagogy and exhibition making, bringing the artist from the studio into the streets and public squares of Morocco. It also explores Melehi’s in-depth engagement with Afro-Berber art and craft through the collection of Bert Flint, from which he drew artistic inspiration.
The travelling exhibition and the Dubai iteration marks the first time that the full period of Melehi’s works has been shown on a global stage with a researched display.
Alserkal Avenue organisations unite through their Pay It Forward Programme
Over 50 Alserkal Avenue organisations joined forces through the Alserkal Pay It Forward Programme to support each other and the wider Dubai community in the face of the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This powerful community collaboration saw the businesses generate AED2mn in kind in just two months. Launched by Alserkal Founder Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal and the Alserkal family in April 2020, the Programme invited community members to apply for a subsidy for their lease commitment for three months in return for ‘paying it forward ’to their neighbours.
The Programme was created to enable organisations to navigate a difficult economic landscape. “The power of community is unparalleled,” says Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, founder of Alserkal, reflecting on the programme thus far. “The generosity of p eople does not surprise me but it continues to humble me. Through the Alserkal Pay It Forward Programme, the Alserkal community has risen to the challenge of supporting each other through difficult times and demonstrated true strength and resilience. Com munity has always been the bedrock of our organisation, and we will always keep this essential value at the heart of everything we do”. Over half of the AED2mn value offered has directly supported Alserkal Avenue community businesses through the exchange of goods, services, and expertise including design, videography, brand building, media resources, website design, and transportation support.
Culinary concept INKED turned their space into a community kitchen, cooking and delivering 22,290 meals to frontline health workers and vulnerable communities in collaboration with Dubai Health Authority, and the UAE Food Bank.
Family-business Italian Shoe Factory produced 500 masks for the UAE Deaf Association.
Kave created safety boxes that included Kayani masks and handmade soaps by Indigo Soap Works; for every box sold, a meal was donated to the INKED community kitchen programme.
Unisex salon Chalk gifted every organisation in Alserkal Avenue vouchers offering Chalk services, encouraging people to get pampered.
Careem Bike offered 250 free annual subscriptions to low income earners, supporting them with their mobility across the city.