Studio Toggle wins the Architizer Award!

Studio Toggle becomes the first Kuwait-based design firm to win the prestigious Architizer A+ Award for its ‘Project Khat’ in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia. The award recognizes the outstanding design qualities of the ‘Project Khat’ envisioned as an artist’s dwelling in the desert landscape of Al Ula, in the ‘Unbuilt Hospitality Category for 2020’


The American Institute of Architects, Middle East chapter chose Studio Toggle to be the proud recipients of two prestigious awards at the 2020 AIA Middle East Design Awards. Studio Toggle won an ‘AIA Honor Award‘ for our Project ‘Khat’ in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia. Studio Toggle also won an ‘AIA Merit Award‘ in the Interior Design category!




For its 200th issueidentity pays tribute to 50 individuals who have made positive contributions to the development of design, architecture and culture across the MENA region. The list includes designers and architects in the  Middle East and North Africa who have furthered these fields within their respective countries or have expanded the legacy of design onto the world stage. Studio Toggle is honoured to be part of this prestigious list. 



Studio Toggle is featured in the annual AD50 list of the top names in interior decoration, architecture, and product design from across the region, curated by the Architectural Digest magazine. Launched in 2016, the AD50 has since evolved into an annual survey of the top names in interior decoration, architecture, and product design from all over the Middle East.



Studio Toggle won both the awards it was nominated for at the Middle East Architect Awards held in Dubai, hosted by the Middle East Architect Magazine. ‘The House in Mishref’ won the ‘Residential Project of the Year Award’ and Unit+ won the ‘Sustainable Project of the Year Award’. Thank you @middleeastarchitect for this recognition and we thank all our collaborators, clients and our wonderful team based in Kuwait and Portugal for your constant support and hard work.

Hend Almatrouk

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”

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.

Rui Gonçalves


Rui Gonçalves (Braga, 1982), completes his Architecture Degree by the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto in 2007. After working with J.M. Carvalho Araújo, he concludes his thesis on Rafael Moneo, presented at IJUP 08 – University Young Investigators conference.

After the 2nd internship in Oporto (2006-2011), where he wins the Pyramid Channel Bridge Design Competition (Aveiro) and designs schools (Porto, Vimioso) and Elderly Community Centre in Porto, he initiates his independent practice in 2007.

The design and construction supervision of Costa Verde Kindergarten (Espinho, 2008-2013) starts his involvement in project coordination and construction management of commercial and housing projects, having won the Limited Competition for Housing Complex in Azurara in 2013. Joins Studio Toggle in 2015.

Pedro Varela


Pedro de Azambuja Varela is an architect graduated in architecture at FAUP (Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto) in 2006. After working in Vienna and New York, he started his Ph.D. studies at FAUP in 2008 researching knowledge in the area of architecture design and computation.

In 2012 he creates the company AZVAvisuals promoting innovative work in graphic and web design, programming, image manipulation and advanced 3D modeling and rendering. He is currently a University of Porto active researcher in digital architecture at the DFL (Digital Fabrication Laboratory) and a partner in Studio Toggle from 2016.

Mani Kuruvila



Mani Kuruvila joined Studio Toggle in January 2019 and has since been a part of the team as a Project manager. He completed his Bachelor of Architecture from University of Kerala, graduating in 2006 and went on to work for a year in Delhi. A post-graduation in 2009 from CEPT, Ahmedabad with Sustainability as the core subject influenced his approach towards Architecture. He found the right space with similar ideologies at Good Earth, where he worked for 7 years and was heading the Design studio for the last three years of his tenure. He then joined SJB school of architecture and planning, Bangalore, to follow his passion in academics.

As an Associate Professor, he mentored students for 3 years and was instrumental in getting students to travel as a part of architectural education. In addition to domestic trips, he has taken student delegates to Architectural expeditions to Japan and Australia, including a 2-week workshop with the University of Adelaide.

A team player at work and a good friend to his fellows, he enjoys music, occasionally sings, is a good sportsman and loves to travel and explore new places.

Somshaker Rai

Somshekar Rai acquired his Bachelors in Civil Engineering from Manipal University. As a Structural Engineer with 7 years of experience and 16 years of technical support in engineering design field including Oil & Gas sector, He has a good structural analytic and design capability. He has worked on a wide range of projects including commercial, mixed-use development, residential and office buildings, executing from concept design level to final tender design stage for the superstructures and foundations. He also has worked on preparing design reports, specifications, Bill of quantity and budgetary estimates in various offices.

Ashlon Frank

Ashlon Frank obtained his B. Arch from the University of Bangalore, in 2015. He did his internship at Charles Correa Foundation, where he worked on community projects of different typologies that aimed at enhancing the conditions of urban, rural and historic settlements in Goa, India. He later went on to work in an architecture firm (in Bangalore, India) where he gained experience in design development, detailing and coordination of projects in the public and private sector. He also initiated, documented and worked on private projects that were focused on the vernacular architecture of his home town, Mangalore.

In 2017, he was granted a scholarship to Japan by the Tadao Ando Foundation to learn about traditional and contemporary Art and Architecture of Japan. During the course of his scholarship, he interned for a brief period at Takenaka Corporation in Osaka. Ashlon joined Studio Toggle in 2018.