Architects Directory alumni: Residence 22 by Dxb.lab

The Wallpaper* Architects Directory has turned 20. Conceived in 2000 as our index of emerging architectural talent, this annual listing of promising practices, has, over the years, spanned styles and continents; yet always championing the best and most exciting young studios and showcasing inspiring work with an emphasis on the residential realm. To mark the occasion, this summer, we are looking back at some of our over-500 alumni, to catch up about life and work since their participation and exclusively launch some of their latest completions. Dubai based Dxb.lab was first featured in Wallpaper* in the 2007 Architects Directory. Since then, the studio and its director, Khalid Al Najjar, have been going from strength to strength, completing a variety of projects of all scales and typologies; here we visit their latest housing scheme, Residence 22, in the city's Business Bay. 

dub.lab residence 22 ground level
(Image credit: Javier Callejas)

The white, clean, structured minimalism of the newly completed Residence 22 in Dubai makes it stand out clearly within its context of glass-clad office towers. Located in Business Bay, adjacent to the Business canal, this 20 storey residential structure is the work of UAE architecture studio dxb.lab. 

The architects, headed by founder and principle director Khalid Al Najjar, were a fairly young, dynamic studio out of Dubai when we first covered their work, over 13 years ago, in the 2007 Architects Directory. Now, the firm is prolific, producing from houses to large scale commercial work, skyscrapers and cultural projects. Residence 22 is just one of several recent completions, which include a farm villa in the region and the Al Hamriyah Studios for the renowned Sharjah Art Foundation. 

dub.lab residence 22 exterior

(Image credit: Javier Callejas)

For this housing scheme, Al Najjar and his team wanted to create something different for their client, who had requested a design that ‘has not been done' before, offering something new to the local market. The architects' response was to start by asking themselves ‘how a residential building can have its own identity' that is different to its surroundings or the wider typology, and ‘how can we make a timeless yet contemporary piece of architecture.'

The solution presented itself through a clean, deceptively simple design with a fairly austere facade that is based on a slim grid of columns and rectangular openings. This lattice structure, as well as the design's purity in shapes and materials (the exterior is simple painted plaster over cast in-situ concrete), defines the project's striking aesthetics. 

Recessed glazing provides a degree of natural shading in a region where the heat can be intense. The ground floor lobby leads to a private plaza finished in travertine stone cladding. Inside, out of the 22 apartments, 19 occupy a whole floor, allowing ample living space for residents and a rare penthouse-feel in almost every unit.

Housing plays a key part in the studio's growing portfolio. ‘We have recently done several other residential buildings,' the architects explain. ‘Another one of them is currently under construction and shall be completed by end of the year. Each of them is different but yet they all share certain references, and draw on our past work as well as other architecture.'


dxb.lab residence 22

(Image credit: Javier Callejas)

dxb.lab residence 22 base

(Image credit: Javier Callejas)

dxb.lab residence 22 courtyard

(Image credit: Javier Callejas)

dxb.lab residence 22 interior

(Image credit: Javier Callejas)


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).

With contributions from