The GCC’s exterior design sector is maturing

Having spoken with a number of architects based in the UAE, it seems that architecture firms across the GCC are putting in the effort to research new materials and educate clients and developers about alternative solutions for exterior design.

According to this issue’s knowledge partner, NEB, Dubai’s construction boom and mega property developments before 2008 often faced squeezed deadlines and even tighter budgets, pushing consultants, contractors and architects to complete projects hastily. The rush caused compromised decision-making regarding finishes to internal and external façades, with natural materials like stone cladding rarely used due to its high cost and the required sophistication of its application.
Things have changed now – architects and developers are spending the time, effort and money to look for mature alternatives. The industry is moving forward and opting for experimentation in material application.

And with fire safety a prominent part of the industry conversation, industry experts and authorities are emphasising the importance of quality façade cladding. Dubai’s civil defence has implemented stricter regulations and material specifications, ensuring that all exterior cladding in the emirate meets international standards in terms of fire rating and resistance.

“Fire safety is absolutely critical and a major consideration for designers,” said Avinash Kumar, associate partner at Godwin Austen Johnson in Dubai.

“The new UAE fire code has stipulated stringent guidelines and testing for all cladding materials, which manufacturers and suppliers have to abide by. Apart from fire barriers, which are traditionally required for any high-rise building, the new code seeks to comply with higher standards of fire safety at all stages of construction, and will include the core as well as flame spread.”

In the pages ahead, Middle East Architect explores the current market trends from new materials to sustainability, while also sitting down with NEB to explore the company’s drive for informative architectural solutions. Ahmed Salem finishes us off with a word on aluminium composite panel materials, and where the market is heading next.

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