As UK architects and engineers cut back staff in the region due to developers postponing projects, Darling Associates - named Britain’s fastest growing architecture practice in 2007 - will open the doors of its new office in Abu Dhabi on 1 February.
The practice, which built its reputation on high-end residential projects such as Candy and Candy’s One Hyde Park, for which it designed the interiors, has made the step on the back of five big project wins and other potential commissions.
These include a commission to carry out the interior design for luxury villas at the Al Gurm development, currently on site off the coast of Abu Dhabi. The practice is also chasing work in Qatar, Oman and Egypt.
Darling Associates director Lood Welgemoed, who will head up the new office, said he was confident the firm would get through the current slowdown in the Middle East.
‘It’s obviously not as busy as it was six months ago. Initially we were looking at Dubai, but that’s really gone down the pan,’ he said.
‘Abu Dhabi is still a very sustainable market in the long term, despite the fact that there has been some rephasing in the last few months. The mega-schemes have been affected, but it’s not so bad for medium-sized schemes, which are what we do.’
Welgemoed added that, with work drying up in London, it was hoped that the Abu Dhabi branch could take up the slack.
The new office continues the rise of the practice, founded in London with just two people, five years ago. The firm now employs over 70 staff and opened an office in Poland last year.