Doha Gets a Fresh Dose of Creativity
Fosc Studio might be a young architectural design firm based in Doha but they come with an intent to transform the architectural landscape of the residential sector through subtle designs while advocating professional project management systems that will ensure that even small projects are completed within timelines and budgets.
As one walks into Fosc Studio, the initial impression is of chaos, the ones that are apparent when there is considerable creativity, an imaginative tension which is translated by the architects into inspired spaces.
We believe in the design process as a means to attain the multiple finishes that reflect the best of our abilities and materialises our client’s dream.
Creative Head and Managing Director
Javier Fernandez, the Creative Head and the Managing Director of the Studio, sits within this creative pressure and churns out designs much different from what we have seen within the residential sector of Doha. Gone are the ornate settings, heavy chandeliers, and gold-plated opulence, and here comes designs that convey an ethos of understated sophistication. Doha’s residential market will soon see a surge of aesthetics in interiors and design, not only through Fosc Design’s sensitive approach visible through material selection and building orientation but also down to the basic design of furniture through minimal designs without sacrificing on functionality and other firms who will follow the path paved by the firm.
Javier is honest, ambitious, and immensely creative, who is hands-on with all the work involved, from conceptualizing to being at the site solving issues as they come up while in construction.
Javier’s ambition knows no bounds, he wants to travel the world and be given the opportunity to design somewhere in the world, “any place with varying climatic conditions and be presented with stimulating landscapes thus throwing open the doors for creative architectural solutions”. For now, and being in Qatar, he wants desperately to design a boat, and that might soon be a reality for it does look like once Javier sets his mind, he will strive to attain it.
And to get Javier to sit and explain about his work is in itself a humungous task, but SCALE got down to it and we hear from one of the most inspirational architectural firms in recent times.
SCALE: When and how did Fosc Studio start and who are the main architects/designers behind its formation?
Javier: Fosc Studio was founded in 2016 after the completion of a personal project (Cheese Market, located in Pearl, Qatar) by Hind Al-Obaidly and myself. After the success of this project, many people started contacting us to design their retail spaces, so we decided to set up our studio.
Currently, the main designer at Fosc Studio is me, although it has to be said that no work can be done without the support and creative drive of the team of Fosc Studio.
SCALE: How easy or challenging was it to set up a practice in Qatar?
It was actually very challenging. To find a location that you can afford with the revenue you are generating when you start a business is definitely not easy. Especially with the prices of office spaces available. Besides not comprehends the value of architects/ designers and hence it was challenging to find clients willing to pay a reasonable fee to cover expenses with our small portfolio of projects that is done locally.
SCALE: Which was your very first project and tell us about the learnings from this project.
The first project, which was our own, was designed by Hind Al-Obaidly and me for CheeseMarket, a small gourmet boutique.
We both learned a lot from it. The biggest lesson was, and which ironically, had nothing to do with design was how to manage a business. Any architecture firm or designer needs to earn a living out of their work and I believe it is fundamental to understand the basics of business management in order to succeed.
SCALE: Does the firm have a particular niche that they are best suited to design or are you open to challenges?
I believe design can apply to every aspect of our lives and being passionate about it makes every single project, regardless of its nature, a challenge.
Most of our projects are currently residential and we also do some small commercial projects as well. The scale of these projects allows us to create and define the project from the beginning to the end and every single detail that composes the project, is looked into detail by our team and this might be impossible if we were to design and execute bigger scale projects.
It would be great to develop a small gated community or any boutique/lodge hotel, as an example, but we are also planning to develop and create other things such as a design for a boat and other interesting things.
SCALE: Take us through your projects and the design philosophy you believe in that is reflected In your projects?
We are a passionate design studio that believes in the design process and the sobriety and elegance of the natural materials.
When we develop an architectural project, we always take a look at the local architecture and materials available. As you can see for example in one of our completed villas in Qatar, the Oasis house. Some of the aspects of that project are examples of putting into use vernacular architecture, the exterior rendering, the use of wood, cross ventilation, control of the exposure of the sun/shadows, and levels of privacy as well. But at the same time, it’s a combination of the clients travel experiences that we feature within the projects that give the house the uniqueness, such as water features within the house from Bali, or the kitchen which was from personal experience and that’s why we had to use the Black Angola granite, or the small fireplace from the desert of Morocco and the space dividers from France. We try to put in place all those elements in harmony so that they blend naturally with space and reflect the client’s personal choices in a refined manner.
SCALE: Which according to you was the turning point for Fosc Studio and how is it important to the firm?
When you realize that more than the projects’ success, it is organization and coordination that is the base for any good practice.
In order to manage the team and to deliver a project, we have been developing and implementing systems within our team since the very beginning and it’s something that will keep growing as experience accumulates.
This way we can deliver the best of our resources and knowledge to our clients.
SCALE: How does being a practice in Qatar, inspire you? What do you think is lacking in the architecture space here?
While most of our projects are residential, we notice speaking with our clients, that people developing and building residences are slowly starting to understand some factors missing in the market such as insulation, the orientation of the houses, optimization and space planning, etc the factors that are needed for the project to respond to the site conditions and clients’ needs or vision.
Many of those factors are missing in the low-cost projects by business-oriented architectural firms, which deliver a copy/paste ready projects in order to deliver within clients’ time or budget expectations.
This issue along with the misconception that high construction cost creates a big fence that needs to be broken in order to start producing good architecture that is executed and supervised by professionals.
It is commonly accepted for small residential projects not to have a designated project manager, a qualified site supervisor, or an architect assigned to the site to resolve problems during the construction time in order to guarantee construction methods and quality control.
1 Your fav building/ Structure in Qatar?
Burj Doha – By Jean Nouvel – If you see the section, it’s amazing that the ecosystem created underneath the ground level through shadows and vegetation.
2 What is a good design…?
Leaving art aside, design through a strong concept has the right balance between aesthetics and practicality.
3 Which is the country that you would love to live and practice in other than Qatar and why?
I believe each country has its own beauty. I would not be able to choose one country but the ideal scenario would be a place where clients have resources to develop lands. And the landscape can vary from the sea, mountain, desert, forest, and more, and the climate can also vary during the year with rain, snow, heat, and wind. I would love to face and learn from the challenges of the different parts of the world.
4 What genre of music do you listen to?
I love listening to a cello or piano.
5 Do you read architectural magazines and which ones interest you most?
Yes. I mostly read magazines about construction or biography and works of architects, (El croquis, TC Cuadernos, etc…) and other online-based platforms such as Archdaily, etc…
6 The architect you admire most?
Ramon Esteve. I identify with their approach to design philosophy.
7 A project that you wish Fosc would be commissioned with?
A recreational boat.