Take Two: The Future of Exterior Design

By July 23, 20182018

Exterior design

Building exteriors in Dubai have seen a number of changes and new guidelines in recent years. We sat down with Avinash Kumar to learn more about these changes and what the future holds for façade design here in the region.

1. What have been the most recent changes in exterior design?
Fire safety is absolutely critical and is a major consideration for designers. The new UAE fire code has stipulated stringent guidelines and testing for all cladding materials which the manufacturer and supplier 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.
Exterior design is moving away from one-dimensional towards a two-dimensional approach that uses contemporary minimalistic material to create a simple, uncluttered façade.
Traditional cladding has always involved a composite aluminium or stone but this is now being replaced by an array of exciting new materials. In the last decade, architects in Dubai have been experimenting with different materials and we have seen a few new types of cladding materials such as aluminium and zinc which are low maintenance, fire-resistant and durable. We are also starting to see an increase in the use of mineral fibre panels replacing the old traditional metal panels.

2. What can we expect from exterior design/cladding in the next 5-10 years?
Looking ahead, one area that is set to grow is smart facades and the ability to implement strategies to manage and reduce radiant and convective heat loads outside the building before they can reach the building interior. A high performing facade or double skin façade can have a significant impact on reducing the loads on the building interface and, I believe, sustainability will play a major role in deciding the cladding material for future buildings.

Sustainability will play a major role in the section of materials in the future. Apart from controlling the heat gain and providing a good acoustical and thermal break, cladding companies will manufacture materials which can be easily recycled. We have seen a significant development in the use of building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). The potential of BIPV to seamlessly integrate into the cladding or double glazing of a building not only preserves its aesthetics but also produces energy and offsets some of the electrical usage. However the high production costs are a major challenge and so the efficiencies of incorporating BIPV into building design need to be carefully considered.

By Avinash Kumar, Associate Partner