Dubai has a world-wide reputation for daring, ground-breaking architecture. Its skyline looks like the civilizations of our sci-fi fantasies, cityscapes we may have one day imagined on distant planets. Gravity defying structures rise up — way up — over the Persian Gulf, gleaming in the mirage-inducing sun that shines almost eternally on the surrounding Arabian Desert.
It’s a city known for grandeur and excess — when it comes to commercial properties, certainly, but there is no shortage of luxury to be found in the residential builds. One such project by VSHD Design takes a rather minimalist approach to luxury in a maximalist world, expressing grandeur through sheer scale and light. The result is one that the firm has described as “a magnificent space minus all the usual glitter.” More specifically: “A space that one would normally experience in museums and grand galleries.”
The Burj Residence, located in one of the city’s busiest residential neighbourhoods, is surrounded by many low-rise dwellings. The client approached the project with a specific set of requirements: said grandeur and light, a 1600 sqm house on a relatively small plot of land, and — very importantly — a great deal of privacy. And so the Dubai-based boutique firm created a structure that’s all about looking inwards.
Founded by Interior Architect Rania Hamed, VSHD is all about creating spaces that are, according to v2com, as “cutting edge” or “timeless” as their prestigious clientele. The client’s needs for the Burj Residence were met accordingly, and the firm answered with an L-shaped structure, placing communal areas at the centre, where the family can enjoy a pool and verdant garden far from the public eye.
The experience of entering the house has been carefully dictated by a border wall and timber overhang, the latter of which completes the “L” of the geometric structure. It also works to conceal the corridor beyond from the side street.
This L outline is transparent at its interior, with large, sliding glass doors that create a seamless flow between the indoor and outdoor spaces, further aided by the slim, linear profile of the glass panels.
A key component in further aiding the open, smooth flow of the space was the choice to create doors and windows that stretched all the way up to the ceiling, creating powerful silhouettes of negative space and allowing plenty of uninterrupted light. These bars of sunlight have an almost sculptural effect on the high white walls, allowing the interplay of light and shadow to take on an intrinsic presence in the structure’s overall form. This is perhaps best seen at the perimeter of the internal façade, which is hemmed by timber screens to filter the bright desert light and create playful shadow effects.
The kitchen and dining area of the home is an open space that makes further use of full height partitions and doors, allowing the option of either privacy or views of the garden and pool — whichever suits the moods of the home’s inhabitants on a given day.
The coolness of tall glass panels and white walls is offset by the warmth of the natural oak used in the study. The material is used for the walls, floor, and bookcases, the latter sitting on both sides of the room and featuring backlit display boxes in solid bronze.
The double height ceiling of the dining room further enhances the gallery feel. It’s a unique space that allows the artwork to be the focal point of the room; a large-scale piece by Syrian artist Diana Al-Hadid, Duomo, is on proud display.
In the family living space, artwork is swapped for a custom designed tv unit as the focal point. The oversized surface area of the coffee table makes it easy to entertain with drinks and snacks at the ready.
The powder room makes good use of a honed stone on the floors and walls, with bronze accessories adding an air of opulence.
A lift lobby, clad in bronze alloy, is flanked by dark, masculine sconces on either side. Those who opt for the staircase will discover a vertical space accented with suspended floating beams.
The master dresser and bathroom are concealed by sliding doors for plenty of privacy. Inside, a huge tub sits adjacent to a large glass window overlooking the garden and pool — perfect for relaxation in a private oasis, or for keeping an eye on the kids while letting them maintain their freedom.
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