Why Designing At Afniah

Design at Afniah is based on the concept that it is an activity carried out by the human being (or society) to meet human purposes or changing needs, is based on the human relationship with material (or environment), so that these relationships are dynamic, variable or progressive. Therefore, Afniah adopts four groups of principles that represent a line of thought in general, these principles are adapted according to the project, so that each set of these four groups consists of three basic principles to represent one of the basic steps in the process of architectural design. The first group reflects the existential causes of architecture and includes the availability of assets (human and financial), then shows the importance of local culture, the know-how, through the solid relationship between the firm as a professional organization, local individual, manufacturers, executives, craftsmen and finally the system of decision-making that ensures architectural creation process efficiency.

The first group constitutes of administrative philosophy, the network of relationships and the data base controlled by the firm, at the same time it represents the working culture for Afniah system, whether inside or outside the firm. This group, in particular, was the main challenge that Afniah team dealt with during the past years, as expanding network boundaries of relationships within this group requires dealing with different teams at the governmental, social and economic / technical levels.

The second group represents the innoovative environment in which design ideas are often generated. Since each environment contributes in one way or another to directing design ideas and determines its visual features, therefore, Afniah have worked during the past years to define the relationship between addressing architectural ideas, the process, and the final architectural product. It goes without saying that the product is the result of the approach in which architectural idea is developed. This group consists of three basic standpoints: The first is the moment of inspiration, which is the moment in which an architectural idea is born and often represents open ended local architecture school pursued by Afniah. It is also the moment that marks the start of the process of the creative approach, which represents the second standpoint where this approach constitutes the interrelation between the design team and the owner, which often leads in the end to the birth of the final architectural product, and must be an expression of the intellectual philosophy of the firm and at the same time satisfactory to the project owner. As the product is the final destination and the ultimate goal, the development of the professional and intellectual "studio" environment, which makes the architectural production chain creative and in accordance with the design philosophy of the firm, it was therefore one of the main concerns of Afniah team, as this environment does not follow fixed rules, it is rather variable, advanced and adaptive.

The third group focuses on the professional process that usually accompanies the architectural design process. If the second group deals with the nature of architectural creation and the role of the work system in this process, then this group focuses on the characteristics of the architectural product. What we mean are the characteristics mentioned by the Romanian engineer and architect Vitruvius in his book ‘Ten books on architecture’. These characteristics are: the function where the project program must be studied with high accuracy to ensure the different spatial relations and the exclusion of unnecessary spaces. The second issue is rigidity by focusing on two aspects of effective and simple structural system at the same time away from unnecessary costs. The other issue is the inclusion of smart and advanced technologies that suit the nature of the project. The last issue is beauty, which is purely subjective philosophical issue. We realize that the attitude towards beauty is variable and there is no fixed standard that can be valid to define beauty. However, without a doubt, Afniah philosophy lies in always returning to local sources of balanced proportions and visual spontaneity, not to reproduce them but to learn from balance and spontaneity to create new aesthetic parameter.

Afniah is concerned with the reciprocal relationship between the building as a single element in the built urban environment and its relationship with the surrounding. Perhaps it is obvious when starting any design process to conduct site analysis and examine its physical, cultural and human characteristics. This stage may represent a preparation before the moment of inspiration, but we decided here to place it as a last group that carries a genetic relationship with the three groups that we mentioned previously. This (urban) group influences the building upon its surrounding and the effect of this context upon the building, which is the first step that Afniah usually adopt in the design process, yet we must say that it is a standpoint that continues until the outcome is reached in its final form. This group consists of: circulation, which is a fundamental issue that determines the permeability of the building and the practical relationship between the inside and the outside. It is often subject to logical conditions that define entrances and exits. The second standpoint is orientation, which carries two messages. The first is related to climate suitability and orientation of the building towards the best direction in terms of environmental issues. The second message is concerned with visual compatibility with the eye and the scenes that the building user views from the outside. The third standpoint is harmony, where a building is not created in contrast to the surrounding urban environment. This issue in particular is problematic, especially when this environment, architecturally speaking, is poor and requires intervention, therefore the building will be designed in this environment to create the evolution that may generate renewal in the future.

These four phases allow Afniah to achieve the concept of open-ended local architecture and make epistemological shock in the field of architecture, adopting architectural experimentation or what we may call as we mentioned (experimental architecture). How can we create new forms that are not isolated totally from collective memory through understanding the local natural surrounding and its cultural, climatic and topographical environment, creating spatial and visual solutions that express this nature through adopting the most advanced modern technologies? In order for us to create this architecture, we are supposed to create an experimental laboratory, not at the level of local capabilities only, but by sharing ideas and experiences with global expertise that are able to achieve this architectural shock in different places of the world. We can say that the experimentation methodology that we aspire to never ceases to provoke the architectural debate about the future of Saudi architecture, because we feel a great responsibility in creating this debate that could ultimately lead to what we call contemporary Saudi architecture.
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