Architecture, Facade, Facade trends, UAE

Four trends in facade design

Earlier this week, a Dubai expert told Construction Week Online that technology is changing facade design in the region.

The following pages outline the top four façade sector practices observed by Abdulmajid Karanouh, head of innovation design, façades, and sustainability at Ramboll’s Middle East and Africa operation.

READ MORE: RERA begins replacement of Dubai façades to boost fire safety

False economy

Karanouh said “previously observed and well-documented bad practices and behaviours” in the industry are “becoming even worse”.

He added: “[This is] due to financial constraints, wherein everyone from clients to consultants to contractors are practising false economy under the title of value engineering.”


Financial constraints are driving select owners and developers away from new construction and towards refurbishments.

“This practice, however – while being more cost-effective and arguably more sustainable – does not come without its challenges, due to older buildings struggling to meet new regulatory codes and standards,” Karanouh explained.

Smart designs

The drive for smart buildings is also changing how façades are designed, Karanouh said.

“The [information technology] boom manifested in the popular use of smart phones and other smart systems, including social media, is giving rise to new interactive, responsive, and adaptive designs,” he continued.

“While so far we have seen many interesting ideas on paper, few become a reality due to investment requirements both in terms of time and cost.”

Costs associated with this initiative relate to research and development (R&D) and experimentation to develop, test, and validate concepts, which is “a difficult sell during challenging economic times”, Karanouh added.


Vegetated green façades are gaining traction in the region.

Karanouh said these systems are fitted with systems that “allow or encourage the growth of vegetation on the external surface of the building”, which thus becomes “an integrated part of the building skin itself”.

He added: “The idea is that biological skins offer many advantages especially in this region if the right vegetation is used; provide natural shading; help in creating cooler milder micro-climates; and create amenity spaces and views that improve the physiological and psychological well-being of occupants”.

Karanouh said these systems require minimal maintenance, “as nature is by default self-maintaining”.

In a comment piece, Middle East Architect editor wrote how the UAE needs to move on from glass and aluminium facades