Nigel Craddock, design director at IMKAN Properties, talks about Makers District and working in times of pandemic

Could you share your goals at IMKAN Properties?

To continue working on high-quality architectural projects that genuinely add value to the built environment and people’s lives. At IMKAN, I’ve had the opportunity to work with architects whose projects and books I studied at university, such as MVRDV Architects from Rotterdam. I’ve worked with designers who are interested in making the world a better and more enjoyable place to be. That’s an incredible thing to be part of.

Where do you find design inspiration outside of architecture?

Travel and everyday life. The biggest inspiration in my life to date came from nearly two years of travelling that I did some 20 years ago in-between my degree and diploma studies. Armed with a trusty rucksack I covered India, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, Canada, and the USA, and the diversity of things I lived and breathed in that two years was simply life-changing. I still use many aspects of that trip as reference points in my life today.

What is your favourite project you’ve worked on at IMKAN Properties?

Makers District and PIXEL. The PIXEL is the project which I feel captures perfectly the spirit of what IMKAN has been trying to do, namely: delivering best in-region high-quality mixed-use projects which drive a sense of community, belonging, and place.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just finished the Beach club at Makers District in partnership with Cove, which launched on November 27, 2020. The feedback from the community has been incredible and as the first public realm activation point in Makers District, we are super proud to have moved this project across the line under some very challenging circumstances. The project will continue to be enhanced and evolve over the coming months as we seek to further activate the North Beach zone, followed by the Northern Promenade of this 186,000sqm district site. The recently launched Makers District Beach is the only swimmable beach on Reem Island, offering guests an array of pursuits along its more-than-300m of beachfront.

Can you give an insight into the challenges and highlights of working in this region?

Honestly speaking, the biggest challenge is trying to achieve a work/life balance. Construction projects in this region are incredibly stressful and demanding and it makes little difference which side of the fence (consultant or client-side) that you sit in terms of the extreme demands on your time, and that does not come without sacrifice. The highlights are seeing the fruit of your labour. The act of taking something from an idea to paper, constructing it, and then seeing people inhabit and enjoy that space or place is a very special process and an extremely humbling thing in life.

What trends do you see coming through in the architecture / interior design space?

Technology will continue to impact on architecture and design as we strive to ‘clean up’ what is traditionally a highly inefficient process. As the world wakes up to the magnitude and urgency of the unfolding sustainability crisis, we will see stringent legislation which forces cleaner end-to-end processes.

How has COVID-19 affected your work and plans for the future?

Beyond the initial disruption earlier this year, our team has returned to full-time site or office-based work and is busier than ever, however, the wider impact of COVID-19 on the industry and delays to projects is obviously still very much felt. The homeworking experience back in March/April was nothing short of enlightenment. We had this paradoxical situation of, on the one hand, a killer virus taking lives and up-ending the world as we know it, but on the other hand a utopian balance in that everyone was working remotely and being incredibly productive and effective and yet at the same time realising additional time with their families. It was a once in a lifetime experience which gave a lot of people time to reflect on the important things in life. It was a stark reminder that life is incredibly fragile and we should focus on those things in life most precious to us.