Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQatar) has announced the participation of renowned Qatari architect Ibrahim Jaidah and international designer Anab Jain as presenters for the Tasmeem Doha 2011 – ‘Synapse: Designer as Link’ conference.
The event, being held at VCUQatar from March 21 to 24, is a working conference, featuring student-driven teams investigating the role of design as a problem solving activity that tackles community issues, daily life-worlds and future concerns.
Through the idea of ‘Synapse,’ VCUQatar aims to forge dynamic links between students, creative problem solvers, local community members, community stakeholders and VCUQatar.
In keeping with the theme of the conference, VCUQatar offered a two-semester Tasmeem-related course to students in February 2010. This resulted in three Synapse workshop projects which will be part of the conference.
Of the 14 different workshops for local and international university students, teachers, faculty, designers, business professionals and the general public, the three Synapse projects are specifically linked to Qatar.
Through them participants will investigate the role of design as a problem solving activity in the community. The design solutions these projects come up with during workshop sessions on the first three days of the conference will be presented by their workshop leaders on the final day of the conference.
Jaidah will present the outcomes of ‘Managing life in a construction zone,’ one of the Synapse projects. The workshop aims to tackle the needs of Qatar’s residents as they find themselves living in the midst of explosive growth and development.
Though excited about the promise of progress, people often feel unbalanced by the constant change in their routines and surroundings as they see neighbourhoods disappear while new roads, buildings, and institutions emerge.
The challenge for designers in this workshop is to find ways to engage people to act as knowledge participants in the changes impacting their lives while also envisioning positive future scenarios.
Jain will elucidate on the second Synapse project ‘Health & Well-being.’ This workshop seeks to address the struggle of staying healthy in a society undergoing enormous change.
The design challenge is to envision a model where designers act as agents of wellness within the context of rapid development. In this workshop, participants will explore the complexities of health and wellness through the lens of design.
Jaidah, the principal architect and managing director of the Arab Engineering Bureau (AEB), was the driving force behind the rise of AEB from a small office with a staff of seven to a thriving business with over 300 staff members and projects worldwide.
His passion for Arabic architecture is demonstrated throughout all of his projects and his first commission, the Al Dana Club, won him his first nomination for the Aga Khan Award and the Arab Cities Award, first rank.
In each project, Jaidah attempts to retain the identity of his culture, embrace the modern, and present the true potential and ambition of Qatar and AEB - perhaps best seen in his design for The Barzan towers.
In 2005, he received the Award for State Encouragement.
Anab Jain is a designer, entrepreneur, speculator and founder of Superflux, an interdisciplinary studio based in London, UK and Ahmedabad, India.
Superflux is both a consultancy and a lab, operating in the realm of emerging technologies and experiences, for business, cultural and social purposes.
As a consultancy, Superflux focuses on the research and design of new experiences at the intersection of emerging technology and people.
Jain has successfully partnered with several clients and commissioners including EPSRC, Nokia, Arts Council England, Courtauld Institute, Microsoft Research Cambridge, Design Council, Royal College of Art, London and Nesta.
Her key honours include the TED Fellowship, Award of Excellence, ICSID, Unesco Digital Arts Award, and Grand Prix, Geneva Human Rights Festival.
She has presented work at MoMA, New York, London Design Festival, SIGGRAPH, Interactivos Madrid, Tate Modern and Apple Computers Inc.
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