Dubai: Simon Crispe

Click to enlarge
Architect Simon Crispe has lived in Dubai for over two decades.

Architect Simon Crispe has lived in Dubai for over two decades. Image: Anna Maria Nielsen

1 of 8
Crispe's home reflects his roots in New Zealand and the UK.

Crispe’s home reflects his roots in New Zealand and the UK. Image: Anna Maria Nielsen

2 of 8
Crispe's Dubai home.

Crispe’s Dubai home. Image: Anna Maria Nielsen

3 of 8
Is it any surprise the Meccano-loving architect has bright-yellow Lego cufflinks?

Is it any surprise the Meccano-loving architect has bright-yellow Lego cufflinks? Image: Anna Maria Nielsen

4 of 8
Objects from around the world can be found in Crispe's home.

Objects from around the world can be found in Crispe’s home. Image: Anna Maria Nielsen

5 of 8
A sunny, relaxing outdoor patio.

A sunny, relaxing outdoor patio. Image: Anna Maria Nielsen

6 of 8
Antique memorabilia reflects Crispe's time living in New Zealand, the UK and now Dubai.

Antique memorabilia reflects Crispe’s time living in New Zealand, the UK and now Dubai. Image: Anna Maria Nielsen

7 of 8
Bright colours and ethnically-inspired patterns create an eclectic interior.

Bright colours and ethnically-inspired patterns create an eclectic interior. Image: Anna Maria Nielsen

8 of 8

I had a Meccano set that I used to cut up, weld together and irreversibly modify” says Simon Crispe, a New Zealand-born, chartered member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. “My grandfather noticed I had the gift of reflecting the world around me in my drawings, and suggested I would be suited to a career in architecture.”

The observation has proved accurate – you’ll run out of fingers naming the projects Crispe has been involved in. There’s the seven-star hotel Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Bahrain World Trade Centre, Wild Wadi Water Park and the acclaimed Dubai Metro, among many others.

Simon Crispe at home. Image:  Anna Maria Nielsen

After graduating from Auckland University, Crispe and his wife Marianne moved to the UK where he found work as a junior architect in a commercial practice in Surrey. His swift ascent up the career ladder saw a move to Dubai in 1991, and the 59-year-old eventually became a shareholder in Atkins, where he has since been involved in building the brand across the Gulf and increasing its staff from 55 to more than 2000.

Crispe’s current passion is the Dubai Opera House. His role is to “help create the opportunity and understanding of the functional and aesthetic drivers needed to address the architecture of this important cultural venue”.

Although Crispe admits the Remuera bungalow he spent 10 years renovating is “one of the most fulfilling projects of my professional life,” he loves living in Dubai.

“In the years we’ve lived here, we’ve seen it grow from a sandy backwater to a thriving powerhouse of urban creativity. That’s because the people are do-ers, not just talkers. If you have a good idea and are prepared to really sweat to see it through, you will succeed.”

However, the speed of change can be disorienting. “You can get horribly lost around streets that just a month ago, didn’t exist. I recently flew in after three months away and got lost going home from the airport!”

For Urbis’ Insider’s Guide to Dubai, click here.


More people

Designer interview: Warren Twisleton

Designer interview: Warren Twisleton

Striking a balance between work and play has led the owner of furniture brand Lujo, Warren Twisleton, to design a range of contemporary furniture that creates a sense of holiday at home.
Designer profile: Francis Sultana

Designer profile: Francis Sultana

Camille Khouri talked to renowned interior and furniture designer Francis Sultana about his life as a designer and his beautifully furnished apartment (featured in the current issue of Urbis).
In Focus: Michael Webb

In Focus: Michael Webb

Building Community: New Apartment Architecture is a visually arresting book with a poignant and timely theme. Vanessa Coxhead spoke to its author Michael Webb about what makes a great apartment building.
Art in all the right places

Art in all the right places

Curator Sophie Wallace returned home from her time at Pace Gallery in New York to open Hastings’ newest gallery, Parlour Projects.

Most read

The urban sophisticate

The urban sophisticate

The historic Grand Hotel in Auckland’s CBD is set for a whole new lease on life as it transforms into high-end apartment complex The International.
The skyline shifter

The skyline shifter

Ground is soon to be broken for The Pacifica, a soaring new apartment complex that has the ability to reinvigorate an enclave of Auckland’s downtown.
Paris without a map

Paris without a map

From Mondrian to Margiela: a very personal blending of influences – design and otherwise – make this French apartment a veritable tour de force.
Homes for barter

Homes for barter

Urbis chats to the co-founders of a home exchange website aimed solely at creatives about trading their highly curated abodes with perfect strangers.
Well connected

Well connected

Like a well kept secret, a renovated 1930s bungalow hides a black steel and glass addition from the street.