SMART SOLUTIONS ARE THE ORDER OF THE DAY FOR THE WINDOWS, DOORS AND FACADES SECTOR
With building programmes and user needs getting increasingly complex, architects and interior designers are focusing on smart solutions that reduce energy consumption and maintenance costs, without compromising on aesthetics, safety and functionality.
Smart solution for doors, windows and facades help to achieve these goals – from facades that make use of the region’s all-year sunshine, to voice-activated window shading and doors activated by fingerprints.
FRAMING IT UP
Norma Milesi, export manager at Carminati Serramenti says current design trends favour the thinnest possible frame profiles, and large glass surfaces with minimal window frames. “In a constantly evolving windows and doors market, customisation is key.”
Seguing into another key trend of interiors flowing into outdoors, Carminati Serramenti’s patented system for lift and slide doors and windows breaks down architectural barriers. The company collaborated with architects Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel for Dubai’s Bulgari Hotel & Resort, to install their Skyline Minimal frames; large sliding doors and floor-to-ceiling windows give guests the feeling of being continuously outdoors. It is also fitting out the new Djamaa el-Djazair Mosque in Mohammedia, Algeria (under construction); the third largest mosque in the world, once complete.
However, cautions Chirag Naik, associate and design director at Wanders Werner Falasi (WWF) Architects, it must be kept in mind that costs increase in direct proportion to the thinness of the frame. For the several upscale residential projects being designed by WWF Architects, he has specified double-glazed doors and windows that are compliant with Dubai Municipality codes, with frames selected depending on the budget. “We have clients who care a lot about aesthetics and would like the thinnest frames that can be clad with stone or wood internally. The exterior is usually metal as we have found it most suitable for the UAE climate.” Some of the suppliers WWF works with include Albertini, Alumil, Panoramah and Schuco.
A GLASS APART
A key driver for investing in smart solutions, sustainability results in savings through
energy reduction and lower maintenance, increasing profits from improved productivity and better rental yields, and accelerates the return on investment. In sync with the Dubai Plan 2021 that has sustainability at its heart, a number of new builds have facades that minimise heat gain and internal cooling loads, reducing HVAC requirements and including photovoltaic cells to produce energy.
While the region has many stunning works of architecture, facade engineering is also about efficiency and long-term sustainability, apart from the aesthetics. Getting megatall buildings to be energy efficient is a particular challenge in the Middle East, given the harsh climate, with temperatures reaching the higher 40s for half the year. Airconditioning can be the single biggest component of operating costs for a tall building in the region.
Nearly all skyscrapers in the region have facades that are entirely glass for unobstructed views. The curtain wall has to be able to withstand the heat, high wind forces, and optimise the amount of natural light that’s let in. Heat and humidity can be a real challenge for the glass, and potential condensation issues too.
Guardian Glass, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of float and highperformance energy-efficient coated glass products, has supplied façade glass for the Burj Khalifa as well as the one-km-high Jeddah Tower, designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architects. The Jeddah Tower on completion in 2019, is set to become the
world’s tallest building. Guardian Glass will provide more than 400,000 sq m, the area of approximately 55 football fields, of aesthetic and functional glass panels. The glass chosen for the massive structure is a custom-made, double-pane glass system.
Lighting designer Mark Major, co-founder Speirs and Major, says, “We put a lot of time and effort into achieving low-energy solutions, without compromising aesthetic quality or visual function. The biggest hurdles tend to be persuading regulatory bodies that it is ok to reduce lighting levels externally without compromising safety and security; and getting clients to understand brightest is not necessarily best. When it comes to environmental issues, is not just about saving energy, but also about helping to minimise overall impact, including any adverse effects on local bio-diversity, looking at the methods of control, ease of maintenance, reducing waste and considering the whole life cycle cost, rather than just the immediate capital implications...”
THE NEXT GENERATION
Boosted by these mega projects, the MENA region’s construction market is set to top $300 billion by 2019. “GCC mega-projects will host millions of people over their lifetime - meaning they need interior spaces that prioritise design and quality to cut costs, provide comfortable spaces, and are environmentally sustainable,” says Santhosh Vallil, sales manager of mega-project consultancy Hunter Douglas Middle East.
It’s as much about looking back as looking forward. Terracotta, an age-old material, has been engineered into a high-performance façade cladding by NBK, a subsidiary of
Hunter Douglas. At the newly built Albion library in Toronto, the exterior was designed in five different shades by architects Perkins + Will. In the building’s interior, the ceramic rods provided sun protection as well as privacy shields. The façade comprises vertically mounted Terrart-Baguettes and Terrart Large elements by Hunter Douglas, made of glazed and natural colours.
HOMES OF THE FUTURE
From intelligent refrigerators and entertainment systems that can be remotely operated, to keyless doors and smart-tinted windows — the homes of the future will need little human intervention.
With building designs allowing occupants to have more control over their immediate environment, they can also control daylight and outdoor views, with simple voice commands. Smart-tinted glass can be used in interiors as well, to control light and privacy in
areas such as meeting rooms or bathrooms, where a simple user command can change the glass from clear to opaque.
Some of these technologies have been showcased at Misk Apartments in Sharjah's sustainable Aljada development. Located adjacent to the Central Hub, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, Misk Apartments feature one-bedroom apartments to four-bedroom duplex penthouses with views of Aljada.
Arada Smart Home technology is being rolled out, free of charge, in all Misk Apartments buildings. While these will be the first homes in Aljada to include the technology, the developer is considering rolling out the next-generation technology in other sections of the project.
Arada Smart Home features include 24hour video security via mobile apps, the
ability to open and close blinds and curtains remotely, as well as the ability to remotely open the apartment’s front door. Each of these features can be activated by voice, and the technology will be operated by a centrally managed and ultra-secure building monitoring system.
Not only do these features add convenience for homeowners and tenants, they can also contribute to lower utilities bills, which in turn results in a reduced impact on the environment. The addition of the technology also adds value for investors.
SageGlass has integrated some of its products with voice-controlled systems such as Amazon Echo, and these are now available in the Middle East.
“The use of technologies such as voice commands in buildings is growing in popularity as building owners place more emphasis on occupant comfort, convenience and productivity,” says Alain Garnier, sales and business development manager at SageGlass Middle East. “Customers in the Middle East value innovation and convenience. SageGlass can already be integrated with most building management systems and controlled via a mobile app, so the next natural technological progression for our dynamic glass is the use of voice commands as an added convenience to building owners and occupants.”
Building occupants can control the dynamic tinting of the window glass without the need for facilities management intervention, a wall switch or mobile app. SageGlass provides smart building installation documentation and sample code, detailing how it can be integrated with other building management components and Amazon Web Services.
German supplier Schüco is developing a sun-shading and daylighting module with controllable parameters to simulate different times of day, seasons and weather conditions. It is also investigating a combined AR/ VR for training simulation applications and experimenting innovative hardware, such as haptic controllers, for improved interaction.
OPENING NEW DOORS
Among one of the many millennial-led innovations in door design is keyless access. For practical reasons and to reduce the potential for misuse, biometric data is often used for identification. Using a person's finger instead of a key is the most commonly applied concept. Hoppe has incorporated a finger
scanner directly and ergonomically sensible into exterior door hardware: to unlock the door, simply move your finger over a scanner field inserted into the handle. The advantage is that, unlike scanner fields placed near the entrance door, these enable a door to be unlocked and opened in a single action. Another German supplier, Hormann, one of the world’s largest producers of industrial, commercial and residential doors and gates, recently celebrated the company’s 10 years of operations in the Middle East with the opening of a new 4,800m2 production line in JAFZA, Dubai. With a capacity to produce 35,000 doors a year, the new facility will help cut down waiting time to one week.
Hormann has introduced a new door typeV4015 SEL Alu-R, that comes with an innovative tubular drive and high-speed process, making it ideal for tight spaces. It is safe and economical as it is equipped with the standard light grille and SoftEdge profile for a high level of security, to prevent door system damage by stopping the door immediately if a person or vehicle is in the door opening. These features make the door suitable for different sectors including general stores, hotels, homes, food and beverages stores, textiles, and furniture stores. “The flexible V4015 door is a great choice for those who have a limited space. It is developed keeping our client needs in mind regardless of the size of the space they have,” said Darius Khanloo, managing director, Hormann Middle East & Africa.
Martin Hormann, managing partner at the company, is bullish on growth prospects in the region. “Many Middle Eastern cities like Dubai, are a popular destination for luxury retail brands, automotive and hospitality companies and with upcoming events like Dubai Expo 2020, we think this trend will continue and we look forward to being part of many new projects.”
Products like Avery Dennison Architectural WindowFilms reduce heat gain in interiors.
Filigreed carbon-fibre shutters in the Foster +Partners' Apple Store, Dubai, shading the shopduring the day and opening at night to views ofthe Burj Khalifa.
Windows and doors can be controlled remotely in thesmart homes in Misk Apartments, Sharjah.
A rainbow terracotta façade by NBK Hunter Douglas forthe Albion Public Library in Canada.
Hawa Concepta hardware for cabinets.
Shanghai’s Bund Finance Centre designed by Foster + Partnersand Heatherwick Studio, features a facade of moving bronzepipes and high-performance glazing by Guardian Glass.
Door handle by Hoppe in a minimalist design.
Glass facade by Carminati Serramenti.
Hinge system by Simonswerk.
Sliding pocked door by Eclisse.
Megatall structures, such as Jeddah Tower, presentcomplex challenges for facade design.
The Hawa-Concepta 25/30/40/50 slides doorsalongside cabinet bodies or into wall recesses.
Glass sliding doors from Eclisse.
Penthouse at Minsk Apartments withArada Smart Home technology
The Schüco ADS 50 door system.
Keyless finger access by Hoppe.
The award-winning Schuco FireStop aluminium fire andsmoke protection range.Carminati Serramenti's window frames atThe Bulgari Hotel & Resort, Dubai.
Door handles to complement the interiors by Hoppe.