“At Gensler, we are one global community, and we are united by our commitment to enhance the human experience and well-being for all. During this time of global transformation, the power of design plays a unique and profound role, and we continue to cultivate a culture of design innovation to promote diverse thinking and curiosity. What better place to implement this than our own new studio!” said Tim Martin, Managing Director of Gensler Middle East.

As designers, we asked ourselves, “how can we not only create a flexible working space that supports our different ways of working but also, how can we look at repurposing and adapting an existing building to create unique, sustainable experiences?” We collaborated with JLL, Alserkal Avenue, and Al Tayer Stocks to create a new space for our studio in Dubai.

Why Community is So Important? These have been difficult times but through our agility, collaborative culture, design excellence, and unmatched thought leadership, we have demonstrated, unequivocally, our strength as a global design force. Market challenges created an opportunity for our designers to react with positivity to reinvent spaces. We recognised that as designers, we have the power to shape the future of our communities by researching and harnessing new ideas that would respond to this moment in time and its impact on the future.

Gensler’s Middle East Workplace Survey released by Gensler Research Institute and Work from Home Survey highlighted what people miss most is indeed social interaction. In the middle east, retail spaces and hotels were severely affected by the lack of travel presenting an opportunity for the edgy, arty spaces captivate a restless local audience. Alserkal Avenue, being a regional hub of art, creativity, and community presented a perfect opportunity for Gensler to reinvent. The concept of Alserkal Avenue adds a new dimension to a vibrant community of entrepreneurs – a place where businesses continue to challenge and disrupt industries who collectively contribute to the growing creative economy of Dubai, and the region. The neighborhood has nurtured a culture of creativity and is now Gensler’s new community. An unexpected venue for the leading global architecture, design, and planning firm with 50 locations and more than 6,000 professionals networked across Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and the Americas. In the pursuit of sustainable development, communities have much to gain from an approach of repurposing. In many ways, an adaptive-reuse project can invigorate our communities by responding innovatively.

“Despite being the largest global design practice, Gensler is curiously local and being immersed in a community such as Alserkal Avenue reinstates our renewed purpose and commitment in the region’s success. What appealed to us was how we can creatively adapt a warehouse to create an extraordinary working experience whilst becoming part of a creative community of entrepreneurs.” Diane Thorsen, Gensler Design Director

Gensler were able to secure a fantastic unit at Alserkal Avenue where they have created something special and different, creating a real-life case study. Alserkal Avenue’s success is evident in their passion to maintain the ethos of their community. Their selection process includes assessing how each member of the community will play a significant role in contributing to the wider community by engaging with fellow occupiers and participating in events and providing local and global examples. Gensler’s bold move from a conventional office tower to a light, industrial unit, will not only shape the future of our communities, but it will also allow businesses to reimagine the future of how we live, work and play”.

The design team approached the space as we would for any client by first understanding the needs of the users. Joyce Jarjoura and Natalie Mansoor, Gensler’s workplace design consultants, gathered data and provided the findings, which enabled Design Directors Diane Thorsen and Jose Faine to create a space focused on the needs of the team. We asked ourselves “what if the office of the future could flatten structures and embrace diversity as our lessons learned? Since there’s no corner office on a Zoom meeting and virtual work means work anywhere anytime.”

A simple finishes palette of concrete screed floors, white painted walls, circadian rhythm lighting, and flexible sustainable furniture creates a beautiful, well-lit, creative space. A space that reflects our values and focusses on being a part of a creative community where the emphasis is on how our people feel and engage in a space.  A simple Gensler red portal was created to frame the entrance. It sits proudly at the entrance of our warehouse corrugated façade to identify our location. We simply can’t be missed. The Runway Inspired by the opportunity to engage in community events and share our expertise, we created a space large enough to host events and showcase design.