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AW²

AW² is an international architecture and interior design office. It was established in 1997 by Reda Amalou. The practice is now run by himself and Stephanie Ledoux, a managing partner in the firm since 2003. Both partners take active roles in the design process and are personally involved in all the projects that the firm produces.
We strive to achieve innovative and creative designs and our work has won acclaim worldwide with many awards and recognitions. Our ability to work in different countries and cultures, and at different scales – from building to furniture – gives us a unique insight to produce award-winning projects.
In 2012, AW² won the MIPIM Award for Best Hotel and was nominated at the AFEX (French Architects Overseas) Grand Prix d’Architecture in France.

Philosophy

I would define our architectural approach at AW² more as an open working process rather than a strict theoretical or stylistic framework by which we abide. For us, Architecture is more ‘how’ than ‘what’. There are probably many reasons for this, but the two most important reasons have to do with our past record. First is that we have confronted ourselves to many different cultures and have worked in over 25 countries over the past 15 years. Second is our ability to address projects at different scales: we design large buildings, interiors or furniture.  These simple facts have made us develop a method based on understanding the context, analysing the existing conditions, defining a strategy and inventing a project. The idea becomes central to our work process; it is nurtured and developed into the design at every stage and scale. These allow us to both give a strong direction – or meaning – to our designs and develop a unique formal language to each project.
Initiating at AW² a project is about questioning. It is about defining what are the conditions that surround the project and about setting, with our client, the ambitions of the project. We challenge both conditions and ambitions at the early stages of our work in order to avoid preconceptions and give us a deeper understanding of what we are trying to achieve. Challenging the conditions will give us context. Challenging the ambitions will give us User experience.

User experience

How a building or a designed environment is experienced is the essence of our work. We want people to be at the centre of our designs. It is about function, but also about how you move through a space, about what you see and what you feel. We organise views, functions, materials to create the strongest possible experience of the site, the surrounding spaces and the building. This is enriched, often, through the use of local cultural elements that are reinterpreted into our architecture. A strong identity with a sense of place or belonging will make the experience unique.

Context

The word is pivotal to our work as it forms the foundations of all our thinking. It is the breeding ground where we look and search for the ‘right idea’. We give the word its widest possible meaning. It is about the physical site we have to work with, about its conditions and how it relates its direct environment. But this information is only part of what we look for, as we take in many other elements into account: climate, culture, programme, regulations, financials, construction techniques, local know how, materials, tradition… An analysis of the different elements will make a singular ‘context’ for each project. This is the ‘inherent intelligence’ of the site. For each project, this is used to give meaning to our choices and to guide our design strategy.

A Method rather than a Style

We view our design process as a method to get to the ‘right idea’ and project. This idea is never a pre-established stylistic statement; it evolves from our vision of the user experience and context, which then develops into the project. Once a clear vision is set for our project, we will develop a unique formal language for our Architecture, each time. And we will then work at every stage of the design not only to maintain it but also to enrich it.
We believe that architecture is about invention and content. It is about creating a unique design and about giving meaning through our own interpretation of context. Content and meaning are underlying in the architecture, and they are guides to our formal work, which is based on simple spaces, rhythm and proportions and through the use of simple materials.

Inside out

Nature and the direct environment around our project is of the utmost importance to us. Our architecture is always turned and opened to the outside spaces. It takes in the nature and views, and extends out. It is never a closed object and engages itself in a strong inside outside relationship.
In many of our projects, masterplanning and landscape are essential to our architecture, and the way we plan our buildings is very much influenced by outside spaces. Opening views or screening them, extending spaces out, creating patio gardens or courtyards, pools and reflecting ponds are all part of our architectural language which, again, contribute to the user experience.

Sustainability

We have always taken a responsible approach to sustainability. Our work in tropical climates has, very early on, made us aware of bio-climatic elements into our work. Sun, building orientation, rain, ventilation and wind are all naturally incorporated into our architecture and designs.
The environmental challenges put to us as architects and designers in our current world are obviously far greater. We have therefore taken a stricter approach with our projects that are design in an environmentally responsible manner with minimising fossil energy usage and maximising use of local products and resources. We also aim at achieving a recognised international standard certification whenever possible.

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