“Dubai’s focus is on building iconic structures; but I saw a niche for luxury residential properties,” explains architect Viktor Udzenija. His multi-disciplinary architecture studio, Viktor Udzenija Architecture + Design, located in d3, is behind the newly completed, award-winning Abdulla Al Gurg family home (featured). “People here stay in the best hotels in the world, follow fashion, and art, and demand high-end residential architecture and interiors,” says Udzenija.
The former Foster and Partners architect first came to Dubai to oversee the construction of the 80-storey Index Tower. “I was 28-years-old and it was a huge learning and career opportunity,” recalls Udzenija. “When I moved here, I fell in love with Dubai—it’s so cosmopolitan,” he says. When the project was completed, Udzenija “took the risk,” resigned from Foster and Partners, and set up his studio in Dubai.
“My clients want unique solutions and an individual approach—bespoke lighting, furniture, the works—we build to impress,” explains Udzenija, adding that sustainability has also become a design priority. “I get to know their [clients] needs and lifestyle in order to give them a bespoke solution,” he says. When Mr. Al Gurg explained what he imagined, Udzenija suggested that rather than renovate, they start from scratch. “The next day there was a bulldozer clearing the plot,” says Udzenija.
Udzenija explains that when conceiving the build for a home in the region, clients’ desire for privacy remains a top priority. “Neighbors should not be able to see inside the courtyard and view the space where the family is made to feel secure,” he adds. The Al Gurg residence is all on the ground floor in order to minimize exposure. And while the villa reinterprets the concept of the traditional Arabic courtyard house that is closed to the outside street and community, it is fully open to the inside garden.
The villa took a year for design and coordination approvals and a year and half for construction. It’s extremely fast,” remarks Udzenija. “In Europe these approval processes would have taken much longer,” he confirms.
The house is designed with travertine Italian stonewalls and floors, “I love using it because it has a beautiful texture and warm, beige color,” describes Udzenija. “Nothing is painted,” he adds. “For this house, we used Islamic geometric pattern in the bathroom floors. That’s a touch of local culture, and is something that clients appreciate,” he says.
View the Viktor Udzenija Architecture + Design Al Gurg home in the gallery above; featuring art pieces from Ahmed Mater and Hayv Kahraman; and furniture by Rick Owens, Viktor Udzenija, and Pierre Jeanneret.