Home / INTERVIEWS / Face to face: Daousser Chennoufi, Draw Link Group

Face to face: Daousser Chennoufi, Draw Link Group

by James Morgan on Oct 17, 2015

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Suppose you own a building. Now imagine that you’ve taken the decision to redevelop that building. What options are available to you?

You could raze it to the ground and start afresh. Space limitations aside, this strategy will allow you exercise complete creative control over design and construction. Of course, it will also necessitate the involvement of demolition experts, planning authorities, architects, contractors, subcontractors – not to mention a great deal of time and effort.

An alternative approach is to follow the retrofit route. Making use of a building’s existing structure accelerates the redevelopment process and, by and large, reduces the amount of financial investment required. Working within these confines, however, is likely to limit creative control.

But it doesn’t have to. At least, not in the opinion of Daousser Chennoufi, Draw Link Group’s chairman and key architect. He says that if approached in an appropriate manner, retrofitting won’t result in a compromised product. On the contrary, he and his colleagues have turned the transformation of buildings into their specialty.

Draw Link has been active in the Gulf for over a decade. Moreover, the UAE-headquartered company boasts offices in multiple regions, from Russia to China. Its Middle East operations are overseen from the firm’s Dubai branch.

“Design and fit-out comprise the majority of Draw Link’s activities in the Middle East,” Chennoufi tells Construction Week. “We work primarily on hospitality projects: hotels, restaurants, bars, etc. In 2008, we began to grow our business beyond the UAE. Our expansion strategy was driven firstly by markets, and secondly within the context of how it would improve our Dubai operations.”

Chennoufi goes on to explain that each of Draw Link’s branches have been developed to offer complementary skillsets.

“We have designed our offices to interact and to serve one another,” he says. “Our Shanghai division, for example, adds value in terms of the supply of materials. It allows us to remain up to date and competitive when it comes to fit-out pricing. The same is true of our expertise. In Dubai, we operate primarily as an interior design and fit-out firm. In other regions, we might offer architecture and interior design services without the fit-out element. It really depends on the region in question.

“After a few years, we took the decision to work predominantly within the field of hospitality. Hospitality developments appeal to me because they are visited by every demographic. Male and female, young and old, local and international – it’s a very exposed product.

“When it comes to hotels, the trick is always to be innovative – to create new lifestyle options for customers. Dubai in particular represents a huge hospitality market. Our challenge is to stand out from the crowd; to come up with new ideas from project to project,” he adds.