Eight virtual design projects by the American University in Dubai


Dezeen School Shows: a video game informed by the Harry Potter books is included in Dezeen’s latest school show by students at the American University in Dubai.

Also included is a game that takes cues from the seven deadly sins and one that is based on the changing seasons.


Institution: American University in Dubai
School: The Center for Research, Innovation and Design (CRID), School of Architecture, Art, and Design (SAAD)
Course: DDFT 473 – Virtual Environments
Tutors: Dr Georges Kachaamy

School statement:

“The Center for Research, Innovation and Design (CRID) holds the distinction of being the first in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region that is Rhino Certified Center, an Authorised VR Sketch Training Center and Gravity Sketch Certified Center.

“Furthermore, the CRID has earned the unique position of making the American University in Dubai (AUD) the first and only university in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to establish an academic alliance with Unreal Engine (UE) through the innovative application of Twinmotion.

“Leveraging these prestigious collaborations, the DDFT 473 – Virtual Environments course introduces a cutting-edge virtual reality setup that immerses students in the creation and design of virtual spaces.

“The course – curated and conducted by Dr Georges Kachaamy, a renowned VR instructor and visionary in future and virtual environments – offers an unparalleled educational experience.

“In celebration of the partnership with UE, the course culminates in a project titled ”Gamifitecture’ The Virtual Space of Playfulness’.”

“This project challenges students to design and gamify a virtual environment, drawing inspiration from existing video games.

“This unique approach encourages students to conceive projects that are exclusively experienced within a virtual reality context, transcending traditional physical world limitations.

“The innovative, pedagogical approach of the course has undeniably empowered students to venture into new territories of design thinking and skill acquisition.

“Such forward-thinking education equips our students with the competencies needed to excel in an increasingly competitive market, as evidenced by the remarkable quality and creativity of their project work.

“The CRID remains committed to pushing the boundaries of design education, preparing our students to be leaders in the evolving landscape of design and technology.”


Stills from a video game with spikes and columnsStills from a video game with spikes and columns

 Seven Deadly Realms by  Shahab Pasandeh

“The project concept is an immersive journey through the narrative landscape of the God of War game franchise, reimagined through the lens of the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony and sloth.

“Each of the seven main realms within the virtual environment is meticulously crafted to embody one of these sins, leveraging a rich palette of colours, thematic elements and spatial designs directly inspired by the game’s aesthetic and lore.

“This immersive experience is not only a testament to the creative potential of virtual environments but also serves as a profound exploration of themes and narratives that are seldom visualised in such a vivid and engaging way.

“Through this project, users are encouraged to confront and reflect upon the complexities of human emotions and behaviours in a context that transcends the boundaries of traditional gaming and storytelling.”

Student: Shahab Pasandeh


Stills from a video game with golden blocks and spikesStills from a video game with golden blocks and spikes

Awake? by Dana Kharsa

“Drawing inspiration from Mind Path to Thalamus, this virtual reality concept transports the player into a surreal dreamscape, besieged by portals that usher them through vivid representations of the four seasons.

“Despite numerous attempts to flee, the player finds themselves ensnared in a recurring nightmare.

“The central question looms: can they ever awaken from this cyclic torment?”

Student: Dana Kharsa
Course: DDFT 473 – Virtual Environments


Stills from a video game with blue staircases and spikesStills from a video game with blue staircases and spikes

Chamber of Secrets by Mehak Minocha

“This project is inspired by the game Hogwarts Legacy.

“The game is based on the famous book series Harry Potter, a fantasy world that every individual wishes to be a part of.

“Hogwarts Legacy is an immersive, open-world action role-playing game set in a world first introduced in the Harry Potter books.

“Different books inspired the spaces, and each space increases in intensity with increasing levels.

“The virtual exhibition enables visitors to experience the different realms of the wizarding world.”

Student: Mehak Minocha


Visualisation of colourful video gameVisualisation of colourful video game

Tetrascape by Yasmine Khalife

“Tetrascape, a virtual space inspired by the classic game Tetris, serves as a metaphor for life’s journey.

“Navigating through the various Tetris blocks represents life’s diverse experiences.

“Reaching the final destination symbolises achieving happiness – however, similar to Tetris, completed lines collapse and fall when the blocks finally fit.

“The achievement of a goal is followed by an unexpected fall, highlighting life’s uncertainties and the need to adapt to changes.”

Student: Yasmine Khalife


Visualisation of colourful video gameVisualisation of colourful video game

Toggestopia by Sameya Masroof Ahmed

“The project drew inspiration from the captivating game Togges, a delightful 3D puzzle-platformer.

“In this engaging adventure, players navigate through seven vibrant levels, stacking adorable living blocks and solving puzzles across various cosmic landscapes to safeguard the galaxy from the looming threats of the void.

“The game’s diverse environments, including underwater, snowy and vertical settings, influenced the transitions in this project.

“Infused with interactivity and cheerfulness, the project culminates in a satisfying ‘Eureka’ moment, reminiscent of the joyous discovery of a globe.”

Student: Sameya Masroof Ahmed


Visualisation of colourful video gameVisualisation of colourful video game

Eternity by Tara Chopra

“This project is inspired by the game Etherborn and is made up of five spaces representing the five levels of the game.

“The way the viewer moves through the spaces is inspired by Etherborn’s gameplay, which involves ascending a massive, twisting tree after which the gamer reaches ‘the end of the world’.

“Similarly, in ‘Eternity’, the user would ascend through five different spaces starting at the origin in ‘genesis’ and reaching the very top, the ‘nebula’.

“The project takes the viewer through the calm yet chaotic, and ever-changing ‘tree of life’.”

Student: Tara Chopra


Visualisation of colourful video gameVisualisation of colourful video game

Paralysis by Christelle Hanna

“The project consists of five spaces – the lair, eruption, jagged, chimes, and REM – all of which are inspired by the game Little Nightmares.

“The idea of chaos is incorporated to achieve a dark and gloomy atmosphere and is emphasised by designing the spaces in an uncoordinated way while also making them irregularly large to match how small the viewer should be.

“The intensity of the scattered elements changes depending on the colour choices, matching with the game itself.”

Student: Christelle Hanna


Visualisation of colourful video gameVisualisation of colourful video game

Chromatopia by Dana Otoom

“Chromatopia immerses you in a kaleidoscopic journey inspired by the game Manifold Gardens.

“Gravity shifts dynamically as you traverse each stage, transforming the essence of every space.

“Explore vibrant environments where perception bends, colours dance and architectural marvels defy conventional laws.

“In Chromatopia, the journey is a symphony of gravity-defying exploration, where each twist and turn reveal new dimensions of wonder and awe.”

Student: Dana Otoom

Partnership content

This school show is a partnership between Dezeen and the American University in Dubai. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.



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