Anarchitect designs beach-side barbers inspired by lightweight coastal structures in Dubai

Anarchitect designs beach-side barbers inspired by lightweight coastal structures in Dubai

They say that Dubai is a city where anything is possible, so perhaps the notion of enjoying a classic New York City barbershop experience on a trip to the beach is nothing unusual. At the latest outpost of Akin – a high-end UAE-based barbers – customers can now follow up a dip in the sea with a haircut, beard trim or straight razor shave.

Located in The Beach development in Dubai’s Marina district, the barbershop has a surprisingly small footprint – just 38 sq m in total. For its architect, Jonathan Ashmore and his UAE and London-based studio Anarchitect, this lack of space and beachside location posed a welcome design dilemma.

Akin at the Beach

‘Our brief for Akin was to challenge the traditional barbershop while maintaining the familiar functionality and enhancing the social dynamics and experience for guests of the shop,’ explains Ashmore, who also designed Akin’s original shop on the city’s Sheikh Zayed Road.

‘Given the project’s close proximity to the beach and the year-round Dubai sunshine, contextually we wanted to create a bright, fresh and crisp feel to the space without losing the rich association barbers have to craftsmanship and detail.’

Taking contextual inspiration from lightweight beach structures, the studio wrapped the small space in a solid ash frame that creates a sense of height and lightness while defining new but permeable boundaries. Built to accommodate the four barber stations, the structure is designed to be adaptive so that it can be replicated in each new Akin location, where it can be reconfigured to best suit its context. As well as barber stations, it can accommodate retail displays, an entrance door, shelving, a waiting bench and also a panelled wall system.

At The Beach outpost, the structure’s contemporary ash design is pleasingly contrasted with more traditional barbershop features such as parquet floors, monochrome mosaic tiling and heavy duty barber shop chairs. §

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