Founded in 2012 by Diba Salam following an extensive career within the UK, the Middle East and Asia, the practice provides high quality design and its successful delivery. Our project work covers a wide variety of types and scales, reflective of our team’s wide ranging experience in both commercial and social sectors.
Principal & Founder
BA DipArch RIBA ARB
Diba Salam is the founding Principal and Creative Director of Studio DS, a dynamic London based architectural studio with bureaus in Dubai and Bangkok. She founded the practice in 2012 after leading national and international projects, such as Imperial College, White City, London and Aldar’s Yas Island Hotels in the United Arab Emirates.
Diba has made research a key part of her entrepreneurial business by analysing place making, smart designs and neuroscience in architecture. The studio’s core values are to create efficient, adaptive, and effective communities through design by establishing stakeholder needs. Each solution is uniquely tailored to maximise the social economic and environmental potential of each individual site, celebrating exceptional detail craftmanship through modern methods of construction.
She has a hands on integrated approach to the studio and, from the outset, has been fully involved in all work stages of the projects. From developing the brief with the client, creating unique concepts, working collaboratively to achieve complex planning consents, working with contractors and specialist craftsmen in achieving high quality construction, and ultimately building a relationship with occupiers to ensure the building is used to its potential.
Key to successful design is understanding the principles and pressures in delivering projects of varying scales, from large complex buildings, delicate cut and carve refurbishments and highly crafted furniture. Diba’s work with AFR’s sister company Veretec provided an opportunity to provide a broad mix of specialist architectural and commercial advice to clients, contractors, and design practices. Her holistic approach to design is deeply rooted in Studio DS design philosophy.
Research forms an essential part of Studio DS’s ethos. Through research we achieve design excellence through testing ideas. Diba has collaborated with industry leaders and government bodies, such as Government Construction Client Group’s BIM paper.
British Council, Paper on Public Realm, Dubai
UK Green Building Council, Retail Lab
Smart Cities & Smart Design, RIBA & UKTI
Architecture and Neurology, Virtual and Augmented realities
Disaster Relief Homes/Shelter
BIM, Building Information Modelling, Technology, Contract, COBie & Post Operational Needs. (UK Government Report and Podcast).
Residential homes for mature citizens with medical network facilities
Sustainable Facade Systems
Parametric Algorithms for Architecture & Urban Design
Parametric Geometries for Architecture & Interior Design
Prefabricated Hotels/Housing Templates
Associate Director, London
BArch DipArch MArch RIBA ARB
James joined Studio DS in December 2013 as an Associate Director. Prior to joining Studio DS, James and Diba worked at Aukett Fitzroy Robinson for almost 8 years, where he was an integral part of many competition winning designs.
James is passionate about creating spaces which provides a positive impact on communities. His approach focusses on understanding the needs of clients through careful briefings and rigorous research in adaptive space planning. Ongoing analysis during the design process, carefully balancing budgetary and technical criteria allows for efficient and effective designs - ultimately providing value for clients and end users.
He brings to StudioDS a longstanding avid passion for design including product, furniture and automotive along with the associated attention to detail and craftsmanship. A diverse range of key stand out projects have shaped James’ career such as a mixed use 1.5 million square foot masterplan including a 36 storey tower in west London, new build student accommodation and private residential units for Imperial College London, and concept designs for luxury 5* fashion brand hotels and residences. Along with these he has gained a strong commercial knowledge through extensive London based office schemes both new build and refurbishment.
James is currently overseeing the residential sector of the studio and leading the concept design for new build sustainable affordable and luxury developments within the UK.
Residential typologies. Luxury & Affordable
Prefabricated Housing & AI Construction
Lifetime Homes for the Future
International Environmetal Response to Housing
Concept design and feasibility study for new building luxury private residential house, London.
Concept design and feasibility study for new build private residential apartment building, UK.
Concept design and feasibility study for prefabricated residential tower, UK.
Concept design for new build ocean front villa, UAE.
Masterplan in Phuket, Thailand for mixed use development containing new build retail mall, redevelopment of existing retail mall and a new build hotel.
Concept design to Stage DD development of new build retail mall in Phuket, Thailand.
Interior Design concept for new build retail mall in Phuket, Thailand.
Feasibility Study for hotel development, London.
Shaikha joined Studio DS as a Director of the Dubai office. Post Graduation from the American University in Dubai, Shaikha received her architectural training in Japan’s leading Design Company Nikken Sekkei in Tokyo.
Her keen passion in the Real Estate market lead her to join the Dubai Land Department where she is currently leading the Buildings Team in the technical affairs department, focusing on, Monitoring, Auditing and Classifying buildings in Dubai.
She has worked closely with the studio principal, Diba Salam, in the setting up of Studio DS’s office in Dubai and brings with her a broad knowledge and experience within the region’s property sector.
Shaikha is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Construction law and dispute Resolution, and she has also been nominated for Dubai Government Excellence program for its 21 Edition.
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