Home LearningExcellence In...Higher Education Canadian University Dubai students triumph in international design competition

Canadian University Dubai students triumph in international design competition

by Belinda Breeze

Industry panel awards accolades to three pioneering interior design projects

Five students from Canadian University Dubai (CUD) have been recognised for their pioneering design projects in the latest edition of the LIV Hospitality Design Awards, announced recently in Switzerland. Alanoud Altaweel and Aysha Mahmoud were named among the winners in the Interior Design Wellness competition for their project BrEAThe, while Karen Munzer and Rowan Hassan were also among the winning teams in the same category with their design, Reminisce. Fellow CUD student, Haider Alhaider, received an Honourable Mention in Interior Design for his Japanese-inspired project, Kintsugi Oasis.

Fostering mental and physical well-being through both therapeutic and educational support, Altaweel’s and Mahmoud’s design places particular emphasis on nutrition and healthy eating. Mahmoud explained, “There has been a lack of understanding around how our bodies work in relation to society’s expectations on how they are supposed to look. Many people have developed the mentality that in order to live a healthy lifestyle, they must always go to the gym and control their diet. That is why we wanted to address this issue by creating a centre that takes into consideration the physical and emotional aspects of this societal challenge.”

Altaweel continued, “BrEAThe brings in different spaces such as a culinary school, a sensory meditation area, and a VR fitness room that looks after people’s physical and mental needs in a creative way, while shifting the mindset around this ongoing social issue. Through therapeutic services, coaching, healthy cuisine, and connecting with nature, individuals can work at their own pace towards a greater balance.”

The award-winning submission by Munzer and Hassan explores the intersection of design and psychology with a space that brings together the elderly, children, and memory loss patients of all ages into one community. Hassan explained, “The idea of addressing memory-related issues started as a personal interest and with further research we found that a rising number of cases are expected in the coming years. Our direction shifted towards helping patients to create a balanced lifestyle with a focus on the brain, body, and environment.”

She continued, “The space provides a family-oriented community that is designed to be safe for those with cognitive impairments, while still being close to their relatives, in order to take some of the load off of the caregivers and avoid the feelings of isolation that may be present in traditional healthcare facilities.”

Munzer added, “It is important for us as learning designers to look after all members of our community and come up with creative ways to be inclusive and enhance their quality of life. We wanted to provide a space that bridges a social gap, tailored to the elder community, where they feel seen, valued, safe and comfortable. Our aim is to promote diversity, equity, and social cohesion all in one facility, with spaces that range from enhancing visitors’ sensory stimulations to building their social lives.”

Also focussing on wellness and rehabilitation, Alhaider’s design incorporated the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi as a metaphor for healing and renewal. He explained, “Kintsugi defines the beauty in imperfection; I chose it because it highlights resilience and the value of embracing our imperfections, which aligns perfectly with the ethos of a rehabilitation wellness space. As people see the design aesthetics, they will see how perfect imperfections can be and apply this philosophy to their own lives. Just as Kintsugi breathes new life into broken pottery, this oasis is a sanctuary dedicated to mending the soul, mind, and body.”

The students’ success marks the second consecutive year that entries from CUD have been recognised in the LIV Hospitality Design Awards. Assistant Professor in the School of Interior Design, Ms. Sophie Johnson, said, “This is an excellent result for all of the students to have their ideas recognised on this international platform. Their work shows a real understanding of numerous social and cultural concerns, addressed through innovative and creative wellbeing solutions. It really shows they have drawn on everything from their design education, at just the right time. This exposure is vital to young professionals when their next step is industry.”