Commercial Interior Design - - Windows, Doors, & Facades - WORDS: SHA­LAKA PARADKAR

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.


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 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...”


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.


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.


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.

Hor­mann doors.

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.

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