UAE façade design takes visual cue from minimalism

According to Avinash Kumar, associate partner at the Dubai-based architecture and design firm Godwin Austen Johnson (GAJ), exterior design is moving toward a two-dimensional approach that uses contemporary and minimalistic material to create simple and uncluttered façades.

While traditional cladding has always involved a composite aluminium or stone, Kumar said, this is now being replaced by an array of exciting new materials that are at the forefront of the sector’s research.

“In the last decade, architects in Dubai have been experimenting with different materials, and we’ve seen a few new types, such as aluminium and zinc, which are low-maintenance, fire-resistant and durable,” he said. “The market is also starting to see an increase in the use of mineral fibre panels, which replace the traditional metal panels.”

Smart façades are also expected to develop, along with the incorporation of strategies that help manage and reduce radiant and convective heat loads outside a building, hindering their spread to the interior. As Kumar put it, a high-performing façade or double-skin façade can have a significant impact on reducing the loads on the building interface.

“I believe sustainability will play a major role in deciding the cladding material for future buildings,” he said. “Apart from controlling the heat gain and providing a good acoustical and thermal break, cladding companies will manufacture materials that can be easily recycled. We have seen a significant development in the use of building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV),” Kumar added.

The potential of BIPV to seamlessly integrate into the cladding or double glazing of a building not only preserves its aesthetics, said Kumar, but it also produces energy and offsets some of the electrical usage.

Despite the positivity, Kumar noted that the high production costs will continue to be a major challenge in the future. The efficiencies of incorporating BIPV into building design will need to be carefully considered, he said.

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