Architecture, Developments in GCC construction, Facade and cladding in the UAE, Material research in architecture, NEB architects

NEB leads research into new intelligent façades

According to Dubai-based architecture and engineering firm NEB’s head architects, it’s now time for the UAE market to focus on more intelligent façades, and the company’s in-house team is pioneering such efforts.

Managing director Jamil Jadallah noted the huge development in façades in the region since he joined NEB more than 30 years ago, though he’s also wary that the implementation of new technological advances within the façade and cladding field won’t be acknowledged in upcoming fire and safety regulations. Putting the onus on architects to educate clients on the importance of choosing the best façade for a project, Jadallah argues for the intelligent combination of design, sustainability and safety.

“All of the designers at NEB stay up to date with the latest exterior façade and cladding developments through training and product awareness,” he said. “As a company, we acknowledge our ethical responsibility to the end users of our projects and the environment of Dubai. By informing the client of all of the options, [architects must] ensure the materials used are not only safe, but also meet the design aspirations and are within [the given] budget.”

Issam Ezzeddine, design director at NEB, added that multiple developments in façade and cladding can be seen today, such as electric sun protection devices that have started to appear in the construction sector, replacing their manual counterparts. “Façades have now become a part of the building services concept,” he said.

Such in-depth engineering studies and solutions are part and parcel to NEB’s approach to new projects – as showcased in the team’s work on the Umm Al Quwain Government Authorities Headquarters.

Issam Ezzeddine

“When talks were underway for designing the headquarters, a lot of attention from the architects was given to the façade cladding material,” Ezzeddine said. “The Umm Al Quwain Government Authorities Headquarters is intended to be designed as a smart building to follow sustainability principles and to provide the required adjustments and interaction within the surrounding environment. The design treatment proposed glass and stone as a primary material for the façade, in addition to the aluminium composite panels fixed to the steel structure elements.”

Jadallah and Ezzeddine agree that architects need to strive to achieve the best façade solutions that also meet a client’s budget. The route to success is paved with materials that absorb less heat and provide insulation to the internal space, they said.

“Brick is a low cost material that has undergone the perfect development in other parts of the world,” Ezzeddine said.

“This material needs to be injected into the UAE construction market. On all projects, the design team needs reliable information about the performance of façade materials, products and their architectural quality. Product flexibility also needs to be maintained in order to react to changes in the design.”