Tarik Al Zaharna: the man redesigning the Dubai skyline

Having worked in Europe, North America and the Middle East, Tarik Al Zaharna, founder of T.ZED Architects, is set on reinventing architecture in Dubai. He talks to Patricia Clarke about his craft

“I used to build treehouses as a kid in Luxembourg, where I grew up. I was always conscious of the space and environment that I was in. From there it evolved into a more defined understanding and approach to architecture.”

"We should look back and learn from traditional crafts that have evolved over decades. We must re-address these ways of approaching architecture and make them contemporary to create a regional style."

"During Dubai Design Week we created The Cocoon, which has since become a permanent installation. I wanted to create a public space where people can cocoon themselves from the vehicle-dominant landscape of the UAE."

"What inspires me is contextually driven architecture. Buildings have to respond to the environment and their users. I find a lot of architecture these days fails because people forget that buildings are used by people."

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The Cocoon, which showed at Dubai Design Week, is now a permanent installation

"[Dubai creative district] Ras al Khor and Sharjah are the places to be for anybody who wants to create relevant design. You’ll find so many hidden gems of suppliers, fabrication facilities..."

"Thirty or forty years ago Dubai was just desert, and a new landscape has been formed in its midst. I recognise this as an opportunity to design into the in-between spaces. No one’s ever designed on a pedestrian level – everything has been masterplanned for elevation."

"Because of the exposure Dubai gets from press and other designers around the world, we’re comparing ourselves to international architects. This makes it challenging and, therefore, more interesting projects are developing here."

"At T.Zed architects, we’re approaching architecture as a craft. You wouldn’t necessarily see a space that is out of place; we bring out the best of the environment that it’s in."