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Combining contemporary with culture

Johnson believes balance is key in new hotels

Brian Johnson
Brian Johnson

With more than 30 years regional experience to his name Brian Johnson, of Godwin Austen Johnson, is one of the most respected names in the entire MENA region.

At the DesignMENA summit this week he spoke on the subject of: “Achieving balance by infusing culture and history into new hotels".

Credited with setting in motion a trend across the UAE to incorporate older Arabic themes into contemporary architecture, he used pictures of the ancient city of Isfahan to show how seemingly chaotic streets can make their own pattern as well as drawing attention to the dynamism of the ancient architects who designed the bazaars and souks of the past.

“Any architect who could reproduce the vibrancy of those buildings and their narrow streets should be very proud,” he said.

Johnson also emphasised how traditional Arabic interiors had doors at staggered angles “almost inviting you to get lost” before explaining how motifs, such as a 19 point star and a contemporary imagining of a desert Bedouin, can be incorporated into the designs of a hotel and a golf club.

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