ANDREW JACKSON, director at SAS International*, stresses that in the interior fit-out market, delivering long-term value and quality is as important as the performance, certification and rating of buildings
SOME 181 new companies have joined the Dubai Internet City in Dubai, UAE, in the last few years and this figure is expected to rise steadily, given the increase in IT spend in the UAE which is forecast at five per cent in 2014. In the meantime, the Dubai Silicon Oasis has announced plans to develop a Dh1.1-billion ($299.5 million) Silicon Park, spread over 150,000 sq m. This will be the first integrated ‘smart city’ built using green architectural processes and is due for completion by the last quarter of 2017, according to a report by Jones Lang LaSalle, a professional services and investment management company.
In addition, the introduction of the mandatory new green building codes by Dubai Municipality will also see the region leading the way in sustainability in new buildings, with Dubai aiming to be one of the top 10 sustainable cities in the world by 2020.
What is key, and has remained unchanged in recent times, is the demand in the region for good quality office space.
Insight from the Jones Lang LaSalle Dubai Real Estate market overview shows that corporates are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability, which is spurring an increasing demand for Leed (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified buildings.
A high-quality interior is a crucial factor in ensuring high office occupancy rates as occupiers remain focused on top quality office space and in prime locations, as the ‘flight to quality’ continues.
For manufacturers, working closely with customers to optimise designs, responsible sourcing of materials as well as implementing innovative manufacturing techniques is key to success in today’s market. This enables solutions that help support buildings to not only achieve suitable ratings under systems such as Leed, Estidama’s Pearl rating system and the Global Sustainability Assessment System (formerly QSAS), but also to attract tenants and provide a flexible interior that can accommodate change in the future.
What is paramount is that the interior fit-out not only answers sustainability requirements but also provides a high-quality interior that will last for future occupiers to benefit from.
Therefore, the choice of materials installed for projects is vital. Metal is being supplied to more projects in the region because of its durable and versatile qualities which offer a cost-effective and sustainable solution. Both steel and aluminium can be used for applications such as cladding, soffits and ceilings and locations where humidity and proximity to the sea must be considered.
Metal ceiling solutions provide building tenants with value, offering a high-quality, long-lasting sustainable finish. They offer an inert and inherently hardwearing surface, thus ensuring that these systems are both hygienic and require little ongoing maintenance. They allow for service integration and accessibility for maintenance and ease of cleaning.
However, it is not just about the maintenance of space or products when considering lifecycle, it is also about making sure space is flexible for future change to provide long-term value. For example, in a rented office there will be different numbers of people using the space over the years, as the length of leases vary. Therefore considering, for example, how partitioning can integrate with ceiling systems to cater for future change is paramount. Exemplary office design is also important to ensure occupant comfort, which in turn can help productivity.
Owners and developers of prime properties are seeing the benefits of investing in a high quality basic fit-out. While other factors such as location are important, a high quality interior fit-out is a key factor in attracting long-term corporate tenants into their properties.
Global construction is being driven by client aspirations and government legislation to produce buildings that have a minimum impact on the environment. The recognition of ‘green building’ is important both for many GCC developers and international clients locating in the region.
Talking to and working closely with a manufacturer at the design or installation stage ensures a solution that balances functional requirements and aesthetics is manufactured and installed. This creates a sustainable building while ensuring desired appeal for future tenants. This also provides for the long term, meets environmental credentials yet offers greater design flexibility to meet tenant demands.
* SAS International is a leading British manufacturer of interior fit-out products.