The name, "Ninu Nina" stems from the alien language spoken by Robin Williams in "Mork & Mindy" ( a popular 1970's comedy show).




Tarik Al Zaharna is an architect of Palestinian origin who grew up in Luxembourg before moving and establishing T.ZED Architects in Dubai. He graduated from the Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL and has worked at different scale practices in Europe, the U.S. and is now fully established in the Middle East. 

What is T.ZED ARCHITECTS and what are some career highlights? 

T.ZED ARCHITECTS is the second practice I have founded in the region after discovering that there is a void in the development of regional, contemporary architecture. My work experience across Europe, North America and the Middle East has further honed my abilities to tackle such a complex matter. Quickly, the practice's research-driven objective has developed into trying to find a way of evolving regional architecture and design by giving craft methods, materiality and context, the time and attention they deserve.  We certainly do not have the answers yet, but we are working on it - it certainly comes with its fair share of challenges. 

With regards to career highlights: I've been around, and with projects like KOA Canvas I hope to let the work speak for itself without playing into the PR hype too much. We've dabbled in that and it's not really for us. 

Your greatest inspirations or influences?

The list can go on, but I would put Peter Zumthor and Oscar Niemeyer at the top of it. Visionary architects who operate(d) very successfully at different scales. By successfully of course, I mean through the approach and execution of their work.  Architects such as Alberto Kalach and Marcio Kogan are also role models to look up to with their contextual, craft-driven architecture. 

During my time in Germany, I have discovered the artist Josef Albers' work and have been fascinated by it since.

What would be a dream project for you or have you realized that already? 

The dream project would to design a museum; a public building with a solid but visionary programme, a strong strategy on legacy and end-users needs, and last but not least, an inevitably important role to play in the shaping of the built environment.

Mixed-use projects always inspire and challenge the way we think. Having said that, T.ZED Architects is currently working on a ‘dream’ project, namely KOA Canvas. It consists of a mix-use program consisting of commercial, private, residential and hospitality components for a very visionary client in Dubai, who has the forward-thinking approach to materiality, and sustainability. This is something that has not been delivered beforehand in the region or globally.  Believe me, this one is making it difficult to be excited about any other projects for the time-being.

Most interesting thing you've heard about your work so far?

We've had compliments about our work and that's always nice. We receive positive feedback about our details and choice of materials. I love hearing more about how our spaces make people feel.  What I revel hearing more of is criticism - constructive or otherwise - because from the right people, criticism comes from having extensive experience, and we are always looking to learn and grow more. "Crazy", it "won't work" or "it has never been done before". Yes. Those are the right triggers to get us going.    

Challenges of what you do?

Communicating to clients and potential clients that time and patience will save them money and offer a better result in the long-run. I lose sleep sometimes at how some of our details have been executed. No lie. Especially when we see our counterparts in other parts of the world achieving high levels of execution that should be deemed as standard. It frustrates me because why the f*** can we not catch up with being more attentive to detail and craft already? Of course this then transitions to the final obstacle which is to maintain the architectural and design vision of the firm while making solid and sustainable business decision. 

Favorite websites, publications or social media handles?

I have a love-hate relationship with social media and I'm still trying to find my place in it.  Print media needs a re-birth as it would be such regret to lose the massively underrated time it takes to flick through publications, read and leave room for imagination.  I browse a lot on many architecture and design websites but my homepage browser is set to bbc.co.uk because it makes me feel like an adult.   

Anything else you would like to share?

People should care more about what they do. It goes a long way.