Posted inInterview

AtkinsRéalis: Pioneering design excellence in the Middle East

An exclusive conversation with the minds shaping AtkinsRéalis’ visionary designs

AtkinsRéalis: Engineering the future

In a world where design often intersects with cutting-edge technology, sustainability, and community engagement, AtkinsRéalis is a pioneering force of forward-thinking architecture and planning. Their ethos—a blend of innovation, collaboration, safety, integrity, and relentless pursuit of excellence doesn’t just set them apart in the crowded landscape of design firms; it propels them to the forefront of creating meaningful spaces that resonate with communities and the environment alike.

Through an exclusive interview, we delve into the minds behind the AtkinsRéalis design team to learn more about their commitment to pushing boundaries, nurturing talent, and integrating sustainability principles that shape not only the skyline but also the very fabric of the regions they touch.

From reimagining the world’s largest modern downtown in Riyadh to embedding green practices into every blueprint, AtkinsRéalis is drafting the future of design, where every project is a step toward a better, more sustainable world.

Can you tell us about the ethos and culture of AtkinsRéalis and how it sets you apart from other firms in the industry?

At AtkinsRéalis, our ethos revolves around innovation, collaboration, safety, integrity, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. What sets us apart is our commitment to pushing the boundaries of design while maintaining a deep respect for the environment and the communities we serve, where creativity and sustainability intersect to shape meaningful spaces. Our culture fosters an environment where different make a difference, and every team member is empowered to think outside the box and contribute their unique perspective to every project.

How do you nurture and empower your team to be game changers in the design industry?

AtkinsRéalis fosters a dynamic environment where innovation thrives. We empower our team members by providing them with opportunities for professional growth, continuous learning, and means of collaboration. Through mentorship programmes, skill development workshops, and access to cutting-edge resources, we cultivate a culture of excellence where every individual is encouraged to push the boundaries of design and innovation. By recognising and celebrating team achievements, we develop bold, visionary, and proactive game changers who are driving a positive difference within the design industry.

Could you share examples of projects where your team’s design expertise significantly influenced the outcome and reshaped the region?

Our team’s design expertise is reshaping gigaprojects across the Middle East. One notable example is our collaboration with The New Murabba Development Company to masterplan the world’s most transformative modern downtown in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Additionally, projects such as AlUla, where we have been supporting the Royal Commission for AlUla’s (RCU) long-term plan to develop a leading global destination for cultural and natural heritage through our master planning services, demonstrate our team’s ability to create impactful designs that enhance communities and drive positive change.

How does your team integrate sustainability principles into your projects?

Sustainability is a core principle integrated into every aspect of our projects. From incorporating green building practices to implementing renewable energy solutions, we prioritise environmental stewardship and resource efficiency. By embracing sustainable design principles, we not only minimise our environmental footprint but also create spaces that promote health, well-being, and resilience. Engineering net-zero is our blueprint for a different future. It steers every team, project, and plan to help us engineer a better future for our planet and its people.

How do you ensure that individual talents are recognised and utilised effectively within your team, and how does this contribute to the success of your projects?

At AtkinsRéalis, we understand that our people are the driving force behind our success. By fostering an environment where creativity and innovation are celebrated, we empower our team members to unleash their full potential as game changers in the design industry. Their passion for making a difference fuels our projects, inspiring ground-breaking ideas and driving us toward achieving our shared goals. Ultimately, it’s our people’s dedication and commitment to excellence that set us apart and contribute significantly to the success of our projects.

Collaboration is often crucial in complex projects. How does your team approach collaboration both internally and externally, and how does this contribute to the overall success of your endeavours?

Collaboration, amongst our people, with partners and with our clients, is arguably the most crucial building block of our approach. We pool expertise across the world to deliver extraordinary designs and results as one cohesive force. We enable and empower our extensive network of global experts by facilitating open communication, driving visions, providing decisive leadership, and creating an encouraging culture. By welcoming fresh ideas, we encourage our teams and partners to share their distinct perspectives and work together towards our shared goals.

Can you discuss a challenging aspect of a recent project and how your team overcame it through innovative design solutions?

Time is our biggest challenge. To overcome this, we are leveraging digital technologies to explore innovative methods of prefabrication and automation. This strategic approach enables us to address industry challenges, particularly the scale and complexity of new typologies. By embracing digital technologies, we empower our teams to effectively meet these challenges and drive progress.

How do you maintain a balance between pushing the boundaries of design innovation and ensuring practicality and functionality in your projects?

Finding the balance between pushing the boundaries of design innovation and ensuring practicality and functionality is a core principle of our approach. By combining visionary thinking with a deep understanding of our clients’ needs and constraints, we create designs that are both innovative and practical. Through rigorous testing and refinement, we ensure that our designs not only inspire but also function seamlessly in the real world.

Elaborate on recent projects that exemplify AtkinsRéalis’ commitment to design excellence and positive impact on the region or community it serves.

After successfully winning the international architectural and master planning competition for Riyadh’s new downtown, New Murabba, which will host the Mukaab, an iconic landmark that features the latest innovative technologies and will be one of the largest built structures in the world at 400 metres high, 400 metres wide, and 400 metres long to take a cubic shape to ensure ultimate utilisation of space, AtkinsRéalis is providing its world-class advisory, architecture, master planning and engineering services to deliver this ground-breaking development, a cornerstone to the visionary reinvention of the Kingdom’s capital city.

Contributing to the Kingdom’s future development in line with the Saudi Vision 2030, the New Murabba masterplan is inspired by Riyadh’s original balance with nature, and its design is focused on a data-driven approach to sustainability, user convenience, reduction in the need for transport, walkability and people-centric design of its public realm.

“Synonymous with designing iconic landmarks in the Middle East, AtkinsRéalis has established a stellar reputation for delivering people-centric destinations combining the region’s cultural identity with modern urban standards,” said Matthew Tribe, Managing Director, Planning, Design, and Engineering at AtkinsRéalis, Middle East & Africa. “This project win is a testament to our innovative architectural design approach set to redefine downtowns of the future living experience not only in Riyadh but also globally.”

What do you see as the future direction of design in this region, and how is your team positioning itself to lead in that evolution?

In our region, we’re witnessing an unprecedented surge in projects of remarkable scale. But more importantly, in contexts that we have never conceived of before. We are facing large-scale projects sitting in landscapes where new ambitions, new scale, and new context make them extremely interesting, allowing us ample opportunities for design solutions.

We are leading the way in shaping the future of design in our region. We recognise the significance of these large-scale projects and the unique contexts they inhabit. By embracing cutting-edge technologies, fostering collaboration, and nurturing a culture of innovation, we are poised to deliver transformative design solutions that not only meet the demands of today but also anticipate the needs of tomorrow.