Shaun Killa has designed some of the region’s most advanced buildings. Outlining Killa Design's philosophy, he sheds light on their upcoming projects and offers advice to emerging architects.

What is the philosophy behind Killa Design?

The Philosophy behind Killa Design is that we want to take each project brief and explore its potential not only in terms of the brief and how we can take the brief further, but also researching deeply into the client’s aspirations and how our solutions can serve or further that. So, in all of our projects, we try to find out what the project’s narrative might be and how our proposal could impact immediate surroundings and even the community. At Killa Design we want to capture the imagination of clients where we will do things differently.

What is the concept behind the design of the Museum of the Future?

The design symbolizes a number of aspects. The hill represents earth, whilst the building represents mankind - in the sense that through the ages, we have always built something which gives a sense of technology of where we are – be it the Pantheon, the viaducts of famous cathedrals or the Burj Khalifa. These landmarks pushed technology and engineering to their limits.

In terms of the programme of the museum, it has 7 floors and these will house the future of healthcare, transportation, cities, sustainability, future governance services and many others. What is presented within each space will be the perception of how we see the future for the next five, maybe ten years and that will need to be continuously replenished.

The void in the middle of the building represents what we don’t know. When people seek what they don’t know, they discover new things and that essentially replenishes the museum.

Why is sustainability in design so important for you?

My passion for sustainability started more than years 20 ago. I remember doing a design for the Dubai airport - it was the flower centre - and I wanted to put photovoltaic panels all over the roof. Yet another building I was experimenting with is the Bahrain World Trade Centre which has 3 wind turbines on it which generate a good proportion of electricity for the building.

It was also around about that time when Time Magazine were measuring the carbon footprints of different cities and then, Al Gore’s movie, The Inconvenient Truth came out and it started to really question everybody.

I was seeing wastefulness and then seeing the opportunity in designing by first principles in terms of passive design, orientation, creating super-insulated buildings and so on. 

I feel sustainability is very important in terms of where we are at the moment in the built environment. I’ve always felt that if one takes it on wholeheartedly, not just a tick-boxing exercise,  but really design buildings that are pushing some of those limits, then maybe other architects and designers or even clients and developers can see that it can be done and gosh, it is not that complicated. As more and more people are moving towards that, sustainable buildings might completely change the dynamic of how we are going to engage with the urban fabric, as well as the transport fabric.

As a mentor to young architectural talent, what is the greatest piece of advice you can offer?

Continue exploring and don't take 'No' for an answer. Work your way through challenges and challenge others, in a positive way. You need to explore yourself and most importantly, you need to learn self-criticism, both of yourself and your designs - I still do this to date. Lastly, keep sketching; for all the softwares there are to explore – sketching is still a quicker way to communicate initial ideas.