International architecture firm Woods Bagot, the company designing Nakheel’s one kilometre tower, has made a number of staff redundant in the last few weeks as business slows in the face of the global real estate slump.
Former employees of Woods Bagot, which employs 300 people in the Middle East, told Arabian Business that "dozens" of jobs had been lost, but the company refused to confirm exactly how many, saying it was "very difficult" to keep track of the number of redundancies.
It is the first architectural practice in Dubai to admit to staff cutbacks.
“Woods Bagot can confirm that redundancies have been made at its Middle East office. This difficult decision was made as part of a policy of reallocation of resources across the firm’s global studios and in recognition of the correction in the GCC region’s property market,” Mark Mitcheson-Low, managing director of Woods Bagot in the Middle East said in a statement to Arabian Business.
"The practice - as with the majority of companies operating in the sector - continues to adjust to the current client requirements and market conditions. It is very difficult to put a number to the staff redundancies, as this includes re-allocation to other global studios, contract expirations of temporary staff, and members of the team returning to their countries or origin.”
Architecture practices have been particularly badly hit by the economic downturn, as cash-strapped developers struggle to finance new projects due to the jam in the credit markets.
Mitcheson-Low refused to rule out further job cuts in the long term, with company remaining "sensitive to market conditions", but said there will be no more lay-offs in the "foreseeable future".
It emerged in October that Woods Bagot had been appointed architect for Dubai developer Nakheel’s Harbour and Tower development, a massive 270 hectare mixed-use project with two residential districts, the centrepiece of which will be a tower over one kilometre high.
The architectural practice is also behind a clutch of Dubai’s most iconic landmarks including the Emirates Towers and has teamed up with Australian developer Sunland Group to design The Atrium, a $1.6bn project, at the under-construction Dubai Waterfront in Jebel Ali.
Woods Bagot, which is involved with everything from urban design, architecture, landscape architecture and interior design, has offices on five continents across the world.