Head into JA Projects HQ, and you’ll find a team as eclectic as the work they produce. Compromised largely of trained architects, their expertise lies between architecture and performance – Ali calls them ‘architects plus.’ He refers to a former fashion show producer and a London city tour guide on the team, and how each of them bring fresh perspectives to the fabric of JA Projects.
There’s a thoughtful method to how JA Projects works, too. When approaching a commision, Ali’s team looks at what is missing from an environment. Take their latest project, as exhibition designers of Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear at the V&A Museum: “We're interested in revealing the hidden narratives,” explains Ali, and here they are unpacking the projection of fashion through the ages, dealing with “the depiction of man, the body and masculinity.” Curiosity finds its way into this as they look at the gaps, asking questions and “considering all timeless aspects of the topic, like gender fluidity and ability, or disability, or race.”
There isn’t much difference in how the JA Projects tackle The Low Line, an initiative by Better Bankside, a walking route activating historic railway infrastructure spanning three South East London areas: Bankside, London Bridge, and Bermondsey. For this, Ali‘s team are exploring the area to create interventions, engaging with the local communities to build on the design strategy around it. A walk around the area and they’ve uncovered the infrastructure of the car industry and how they occupy the various arches in this new public realm. Like they did with the V&A exhibition, their investigation begins with what is missing in an area that's stopping it from working for people from all walks of life that inhabit it.