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“Architects have a social role to play in society” – ABB LEAF Awards judge Firas Hnoosh

Firas Hnoosh of Perkins+Will has worked on everything from a tower in east London’s Olympic Village to the National Bank of Abu Dhabi Global HQ. Compelo talks exclusively to the ABB LEAF Awards judge.

What role have awards such as the ABB LEAF Awards played in your career?

Awards are a recognition of someone’s potential, passion and energy for design. I did not seek to win awards through my designs. However, every award I won injected me − and more importantly my team − with a huge amount of energy.

What are the qualities successful architecture must possess to be outstanding?

Timeless beauty, inspiring spaces and a healthy environment. Furthermore, successful architecture must appeal to the masses aesthetically, inspire them, excite them and make them proud, among other things.

Successful architecture must also inspire its users by capturing delightful views and offering them to their occupants. It should offer spaces that use scale, colour and light to inspire people and delight them. Moreover, buildings should promote a healthy existence through promoting physical activity.

Furthermore, they should offer users natural ventilation, access to daylight, delightful views and communal spaces to socially interact.

ABB LEAF Review Awards - Compelo

How has the architect’s role in society changed during your career?

The value of design today is more recognised than ever before, but the role of the architect has shifted. Architects are no longer master builders, they are often seen as packaging consultants or gift wrapping experts.

What do you think the architect’s role should be?

Architects have a social role to play in society. As such, they should actively advocate their roles in improving our lives through better housing, school environments, healing spaces, work spaces − and much more.

What most excites you about contemporary architecture?

The innovation that’s taking place. One is always pleasantly surprised by the inventiveness and creativity of young designers. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, someone comes up with something very fresh and original.

Conversely, are there any trends that you find particularly troubling?

Many architects have moved to work on the client side in the past two decades. Our clients in many cases are our colleagues. As a result, in their effort to protect the best interests of their employers, they end up downgrading or diluting the design quality and the level of innovation by resorting to tested methods and safe solutions.

What building constructed in your lifetime do you wish you could have designed, and why?

I have enjoyed many buildings designed by many architects, yet I have never desired to design any of them myself. I’ve always desired to do better.

The ABB LEAF Awards take place on 21 September at the Royal Horseguards, London. For more information, click here.

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