JLife speaks to Muthahar Khan, prolific Architectural Designer and Founder of award-winning boutique practice Studio Tashkeel, to find out more about his mission to make the extraordinary affordable.
The son of a prestigious south Indian construction consultant, you could say architecture is in Muthahar Khan’s blood. In his early twenties he was sent to London to acquire a degree at the renowned Architectural Association School of Architecture, with a view to taking over the family business. But not everything in life is built to spec.
Word of Muthahar’s prodigious talents swiftly spread, with star architect Zaha Hadid moving to take the young student under her wing: “Zaha was UK’s Buckminster Fuller, an absolute genius. Having been fortunate to have worked with her for the best part of four years, she inspired me to think big, and to never back out of a challenge.”
His devotion to his profession was surpassed only by the love that had blossomed for his soon-to-be wife. Though Muthahar enjoyed the architectural variety of the city, when the heavens smiled upon their marriage in 2009, the couple made the decision to build their future together in the north: “London life was getting a bit hectic, so we moved here to raise our family. We didn’t know anyone, it was like living on an island, but we had each other. Slowly but surely, we found many friends and we’re happily settled in Prestwich and I’m excited to continue to get to know the community.”
Securing a role at a prominent Manchester architectural practice, for seven years he led ambitious corporate projects from office towers to leisure centres, most notably Manchester City FC’s Academy Stadium. Keen to follow his vision independently, he soon picked up a slew of multimillion-pound commissions as a freelance Architectural Designer. Within a year, he had recruited some of the UK’s top architectural minds to satisfy the demand, and Studio Tashkeel was born.
A happily married family man, with three little ones to keep him busy, Muthahar knows as well as most the strains that lockdown have brought on households: “People were spending a lot more time at home and families needed their own privacy. So in 2020, we turned our attention to domestic projects as the deand for extensions boomed.”
Muthahar is hands-on with every project he undertakes, bringing the same level of attention and imagination to a simple extension as he would give to a multimillion-pound corporate project: “There’s no other way I know how to work. There’s a certain level of trust that people put in you, and it’s important to deliver on that. It’s not an exercise in showing off your architectural prowess to create a glitzy work of art, it is someone’s home they’re pumping their hardearned savings into.”
Keen to counter the characterless off-the-peg designs that pervade the UK housing stock, Muthahar is passionate about recreating the latest cutting-edge design trends from his larger projects on a smaller, more affordable scale: “Modular construction has its place, but when you’re putting blood, sweat and tears into your home, you want it to be your own, rather than a product of a system. “
The extraordinary shouldn’t be out of the grasp of ordinary folks. Architectural practices have made significant echnological improvements in the last few years. There are ways of achieving flamboyant designs on a budget. That doesn’t necessarily have to be in terms of form, it could be in its quality, materials, or layout of spaces – and you achieve that by leveraging the right kind of workmanship.”
Eager to make your money work smarter, not harder, Muthahar emphasises that bringing architectural skill to a project early on will inevitably save you money down the line: “What we as designers do differently, is see things in a way others cannot. Many clients come to me wishing to extend their houses by three metres because that’s how far planning has allowed them. I tell them, what you’re allowed to do and what you should do are two different things. There are cost constraints to extending your home and if it’s a matter of trying to solve a problem, that’s what we’re here for. Often just by making a few clever moves within the existing layout, we can achieve those lifestyle changes much more cost-effectively.”
Handholding lients through the entire journey, the team can see projects through from creating a vision to supervising construction. If a planning application is needed, their experience with local bodies puts them in good stead to deal with challenging scenarios: “
We are very much on the ball with planning regulations in the Manchester area, and never take on a project unless we are confident it’s going to achieve successful planning permission.”For the team at Studio Tashkeel, the key is understanding what families truly require of their spaces: “
When we first embark on a project, we carry out a site consultation, whereby either myself or one of my Architects will visit the property and speak to our client to find out how they and their family use their home, and come up with bespoke design solutions tailored to their lifestyles.“
We’re trying to bring back your traditional master craftsman approach, whereby we’re not just simply giving clients a building, we’re giving them a home.”To discover how Studio Tashkeel can mae your architectural vision a reality, call 0161 546 5395 or visit www.studiotashkeel.com