(“Text as submitted by architect”)
Gijo Paul George
Gijo Paul George Chembakassery is the Co-Founder and Principal Architect of Studio Toggle.
He graduated in Architecture from the University of Kerala (T.K.M.C.E) in 2007. From 2007-2009 he worked with multiple practices of varying sizes in India and Kuwait while obtaining his LEEP AP certification. In 2009, he started pursuing his Master’s Degree in Urban Design (Brain City Lab, Wolf D Prix) at the Universität Für Angewandte Kunst (Die Angewandte) in Vienna.
In 2011 he Co-Founded the experimental architectural practice Studio Toggle in Vienna with fellow Die Angewandte graduate Hend Almatrouk and relocated to Kuwait in 2012. As the Principal Architect of Studio Toggle he has guided the firm to winning multiple prestigious architecture awards like ‘Middle East Architect Awards 2016’ (Residential Project of the year), ‘Cityscape awards 2017’ (Best low to mid-rise residential building of the year) ‘Middle East Architect Awards 2018’(Boutique Architecture Firm of the Year) etc.
He is also an enthusiastic photographer and is the de-facto photographer for all Studio Toggle projects.
Hend Almatrouk is from Kuwait and did her Bachelor of Architecture in the American University of Sharjah, graduating in 2008. She went on to do her master’s degree in Urban Strategies (Excessive, Hernan Diaz Alonso) from the Universität Für Angewandte Kunst, Vienna and graduated with distinction in 2011.
In 2011, she established Studio Toggle with Gijo Paul George, a fellow Die Angewandte graduate. By 2016, she established Studio Toggle Porto branch in Portugal.
As the CEO and partner, she is in charge of client relations and marketing while being heavily been involved in the design, site supervision, and planning. Hend has overseen the growth of Studio Toggle from a 2 person team working out of a Cafe to a medium-sized firm of 12 employees operating from 2 global offices in Kuwait City and Porto.
Her work was exhibited in multiple prestigious venues like the Venice Biennale 2010, Essence 2011 at MAK, Vienna, and The Experimental Architecture Biennale Vol 01 in Prague.
In recognition of her achievements, she was named the Young Architect of the Year in 2017 by the prestigious Middle East Architecture magazine for the “Undeniable strides she made in a short period of time, with projects that continue to positively contribute to the growing urban fabric of the GCC.”
Studio Toggle was established in 2012 by Architects Hend Almatrouk and Gijo Paul George upon graduating from the Universität für Angewandte Kunst, Vienna. The practice focuses on logical design and problem- solving techniques with a specific emphasis on Architecture and Urban Design. Studio Toggle believes in the balance between the opposites, that form follows function, that simplicity is complex, and that chaos can be beautiful. Studio Toggle’s expertise ranges from public-sector, commercial, residential and hospitality architecture to interior design. Operating from its three Studios in Kuwait City, Porto and Bangalore, Studio Toggle has successfully designed, supervised and handed over projects varying in scales and typologies.
Studio Toggle has emerged as one of the Middle East’s most decorated boutique architecture firms. It has proven its capability and readiness to tackle the challenges of spatial hierarchies, social norms and the harsh desert weather conditions unique to the Arabian Gulf. It boasts of a multicultural team of highly accomplished architects and engineers. This rich diversity adds depth and empowers Studio Toggle to deliver its site-specific, vernacular-inspired version of desert modernism. Working on projects in urban and remote areas of the Middle East and Europe, Studio Toggle has adapted to tight budgets, scarcity of skilled labour, multi-lingual workforce, adverse weather conditions etc. and has learned to deliver high-quality projects without cost overruns.
Studio Toggle’s body of work has been acclaimed worldwide, endorsed by the prestigious international awards won by the practice, including multiple American Institute of Architects Honor and Merit Awards and multiple Architizer A+ Awards, to name a few. In 2022, Studio Toggle was named the ‘Best Young Firm’ and ‘The Best Architecture from in the Middle East and Africa’ at the prestigious Architizer A+ Awards. Studio Toggle’s projects are routinely published in prestigious architectural books and magazines, including Architectural Digest, ArchDaily, Dezeen, DesignBoom etc. The practice continues to push the boundaries of design sensibilities in its spheres of influence.