We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to one of our Honorable mention winners for our “Abu Dhabi Flamingo Visitor Center” competition – Abdelrahman Adel and Abdallah Mekkawi from Egypt.

Abdelrahman Adel and Abdallah Mekkawi 

We are Abdallah Mekkawi and Abdelrahman Adel, two young Egyptian and multi-award-winning architects. We have over four years of experience in the fields of architecture and integrated community development, gained by collaborating with different architecture practices in Egypt, such as; CDC-Abdelhalim Ibrahim, Takween, and Hand Over. In 2019 we co-founded Almena Design Studio which is based in Cairo, Egypt, to try out some of the ideas that we believe in and to try to bridge the gap between vernacular and contemporary architecture.

Brief information about the projects that you/your company have been involved with. For instance, what scale have you focused on/preferred, any significant projects where the company/individuals have been involved?

We came from an integrated community development background. Our practice depends on being a part of the design and build of socially and environmentally responsible development projects. As young architects, this experience has reformulated a conscious understanding of design as a vital impact tool on our built environment.

The most inspiring experience was to lead the design and construction of a community school for children; they have to walk for 7 km every day to reach the nearest school. The school was constructed in partnership with local community members by engaging them in the design and build process. The project provided more than twenty work opportunities a day for nine months. It reshaped the village, where it provided the community with alternative construction techniques to build their dwellings using sustainable solutions. This experience made us understand how design can leave an impact beyond the structure and exposed us to building for the people by the people.

Today, our design work has been honored by winning the Gold Award at the "Cairo Design Award" for two consecutive years. Also, we have been engaged in three projects that were nominated for the Aga Khan Award.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of an architect in your society?

We are looking forward to being part of shaping the future of architecture — architecture that takes into account the social and environmental needs of the user. We are planning to activate the role of the architect in positive contributions to government and organizational policy-making. Moreover, we aspire to bring about the role of the multidisciplinary architect in restructuring the forces and magnitudes that address the tough changing challenges of our future. Also, we want to continue to organize and deliver training workshops for the local community on the application of building low-cost, and environmentally friendly buildings using participatory design approach and locally sourced materials.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

As practicing architects, we participate in architecture vision competitions hoping to test our ideas and philosophy to activate the interdisciplinary field of sustainable architecture solutions, drawing on the most recent approaches in the social, governmental, and environmental sciences. We are interested in deepening our understanding of the critical challenges and doing in-depth research to seek potential solutions for achieving sustainable development. We aim to endeavor on an odyssey to investigate architecture that creates new opportunities, to establish enterprising, bold ideas that change people’s lives.

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture vision competitions?

Our advice for architects, especially the young, is to participate in architecture vision competitions from time to time to test their ideas and to expand their knowledge and skills. The vision competitions will provide them with specialized experiments to explore design methodologies, do in-depth research, and critically evaluate architectural design’s possible roles in solving built environment issues.

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