Dubai's VX Studio charts expansion in Saudi Arabia and beyond

Balkrishan Singh and Seth Matson outline VX Studio’s developer-focused strategy

Mag Creek, the master development within which the world's largest wellness centre will be developed in Dubai. VX is working on the Mag Creek Wellbeing Resort within the master development.
Mag Creek, the master development within which the world's largest wellness centre will be developed in Dubai. VX is working on the Mag Creek Wellbeing Resort within the master development.

The Middle East’s penchant for ambitious design and architecture is well known around the world. However, it takes sound engineering know-how to translate ornately sketched out designs into workable and resource-efficient structures.

Bridging this gap is a key priority for VX Studio, a Dubai-based architectural design firm that is one of the companies shortlisted for the upcoming Construction Week Awards 2018, which will be held on 4 December, 2018. Ahead of the event, VX Studio’s chief operating officer, Seth Matson, tells CW that the Middle East’s competitive design market is faced with the same challenges as its global peers.

READ: Sobha Hartland among CW Awards 2018's residential project shortlist

“The design challenges in the region are essentially the same as elsewhere – how to achieve something exceptional that meets all the functional, technical, and budgetary requirements of the client,” Matson explains.

“There is something of an arms race in the design fields here to do something innovative and different, but that doesn’t always lead to the best design. In terms of construction, [one] challenge is the lack of an established workforce of skilled tradesmen, which means achieving high quality or complicated finishing details requires extensive supervision.”

These are among the factors that drive VX Studio’s corporate vision and design philosophy, with the firm focused on what its executive director for projects, Balkrishan Singh, describes as “developer-centric design”, adding: “This means we place the developer’s key interests and expectations at the core of the design process by maximising the sellable area as well as return on investment (ROI). We continuously exceed delivery to the highest efficiencies and quality standards. Every project is a partnership, and we take the time to understand the client’s concept and vision. We approach each development individually and consider its circumstances, parameters, and opportunities to translate design intent into built outcome.”

READ: Redefining developer-led design a priority for VX

Singh points out that VX Studio’s team is a critical component of this management approach, adding that the “hand-picked” international experts working at the firm hail from real estate development background. This allows them to complete “the key design requirements of the developer through each stage of the design process”, he says, adding: “We ensure the project is commercially viable, and [developers] get the best ROI.”

But what else are the Middle East’s developers seeking from their projects? Matson says sustainability is – and will remain – a key area of focus for regional clients, as will technology-driven efficiencies. “Interest in sustainable and wellness-centered designs will continue to grow in the region, as well as a focus on modular and pre-fabricated building construction technologies,” he explains, adding that these preferences are growing as developers try to reduce the resources consumed by building programmes.

READ: Dubai's VX wins Al Hamra Rove Manar Mall contract

VX Studio’s approach is finding takers in the market, and Singh says the firm has recently worked on notable Middle East developments, such as Ahad Residences and Andaz Hotel in Dubai. Singh adds: “We are also working on Mag Creek Wellbeing Resort, [which includes] a wellness hotel, serviced and residential apartments, luxury villas, and the world’s largest wellness centre.”

Challenges related to these projects included “the development and division of scope of services, stakeholder management, [and] revisions and modifications in authority requirements”, Singh says.

Matson believes that VX Studio’s developer-focused work ethic has powered the firm’s success so far, and will continue to do so in the future.

He adds: “VX Studio is looking forward to expanding our international operations by focusing on regional and international markets where the Dubai brand and reputation for world class architecture is strong, including Saudi Arabia, North Africa, and the CIS countries, as well as the Far East. We are confident that our experience as a developer-centric design firm will enable us to succeed by offering new clients outstanding, cost-effective design solutions.”

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