An architectural gesture is not only an action undertaken for the purpose of a result, it’s an experience, it’s craftsmanship, it’s intuition, it’s conscious, it’s nonsense… All of these things can be in a gesture. I call these things material gestures, because it’s about how you relate to material and how you transform material. In Batara (2012 an installation and exhibition in collaboration with photographer Bas Princen), I wanted to create something that didn’t come from a drawing, but directly from a material. “Batara” comes from an Arabic word for hewing or cutting stone. And I really liked the geometrical forms of the Barbar Temple in northern Bahrain, which was built out of limestone blocks by the ancient Dilmun civilization, who date back to 3,000 B.C. So I made a big sandbox, started digging in the sand, and poured plaster in the cavities. They’re basically three-dimensional inkblots. My secret wish was always to become a painter. But ultimately i find it interesting that my work becomes architecture, because it is somehow more essential. I’m quite a reductionist — I like to get rid of everything that is not essential. There’s an aspect of my work that isn’t about nationality — it’s somehow about experience, or you could say there’s a certain spirituality. I find it important that through the work you could have an experience of beauty.

Taken from PIN–UP 20, Spring Summer 2016. Interview by Shumi Bose. Portraits by Vytautas Kumža.