Sustainable building will be around for a long time: Bruno Gomes
After two difficult years for the Middle Eastern construction industry due to the effects of COVID-19 and other causes, contractors, suppliers, and consultants can anticipate growth and the likelihood of increasing project prospects in 2022 and beyond. For instance, the GCC has yet to award the primary contracts for construction and transportation projects totaling almost $1.4 trillion.
Nearly 85% of the GCC's planned future projects are concentrated in Saudi Arabia (63%) and the UAE (21.5%), making the pipeline of potential future projects large. The fourth quarter of 2022 saw a wide range of contracts issued to major contractors in the region, including work on international airports, electrical substations, residential developments, and historical institutions.
With this score, the Middle East and North Africa rise from eighth to sixth place, moving up from their previous position in February 2022 (0.46). One factor contributing to the Middle East and North Africa's low index score is the region's inadequate infrastructure (score of 0.1), which places it last among the world's 11 regions. The business and leisure sector in the Middle East and North Africa, on the other hand, has fared slightly better, scoring a 0.8 (putting it in 2nd place globally). Among the countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Algeria has the worst construction problems, earning a score of only 0.04. However, things are slightly better in Israel, where the current score is 1.15. The commercial and leisure sector in the Middle East and North Africa has seen its score on Global Data's construction project momentum index climb from 0.49 in February 2022 to 0.8 in April 2022, indicating that problems in this area have been resolved. Also improving is Oman's building industry, which saw its index score rise from -0.41 in February 2022 to 0.94 in April 2022.
Stretching further on the subject, Bruno Gomes, Senior Design Architect at Dewan Architects & Engineers, stated, "Consultants and contractors have collaborated on this domain, so I see it as a natural progression of events." The information we require is held within their ranks, and they, in turn, require our expertise. That's why I think we all must pull together to bring the best quality to the projects. However, given the expertise they bring to the table, contractors should be brought in as early as possible—the schematic design stage, to be precise—working hand in hand with the consultants and client’s team. Doing so would save time and money by reducing the need for unnecessary value engineering processes or last-minute site changes
. Additionally, all those involved will feel that the project is also theirs, generating a better final product.
"A gap and certain disparities can exist between consultants and contractors, particularly in terms of the level of detail provided in IFC drawings generated using BIM and the quality of the labour team on site. “Even without being able to generalise because there are different types of contractors and consultants, the reality is that we must work together so that the expectations created during the project stage can be reflected in the final product. To build better projects, we not only need better architects or engineers but also specialised labor, and here the contractors have a fundamental role,” Gomes commented further.
Embedding technology and sustainability is a must for the Middle East.
Eco-friendly construction is a complex, multi-stage procedure. Architects consider the building's long-term effects on the environment and the community at large, not just its immediate needs for repair and eventual removal. With the environment in mind, there have been several amazing efforts that have sparked widespread change. From beautiful residences to caring medical facilities and efficient offices, these buildings represent the best of environmentally responsible design and construction around the world. Each of these buildings looks great and does what it's supposed to.
"Using technology is crucial because, with the right software, we can now mimic the results." The correct orientation of the buildings is crucial for environmental sustainability. Facade openings can be studied to see whether large windows are necessary, whether or not the openings are functioning effectively, and so on. There is software that can almost predict the future, and it can simulate almost anything. "The more data we collect, the better the project will be, so we make every effort to use this kind of software," opined Gomes.
major hurdles in embedding sustainable solutions
The lack of time and short budgets to design and build are often the biggest obstacles to implementing sustainability solutions. Clients are used to requesting solutions in a short or impossible period of time without taking into consideration that every process will require a specific amount of time when done properly. A project is like a marathon, and it is important to understand the rhythm of each process so that we can reach the end with the best performance.
Highlighting other hurdles, Gomes commented, "Another obstacle during the design process that affects the implementation of sustainability or other more innovative concepts is the increasing number of people involved in the projects." To give you an example, I had the privilege of working in one of the Expo 2020 pavilions. Indeed, the pavilion was less than 10,000 square meters, and about a hundred professionals from the consultant's and client’s sides were working on the design process. Given the number of stakeholders, decision-making can be a daunting task at times. It's very challenging because, even if you have one great concept, you still need to convince the others before you can move into those areas. That's a lot of people to talk to, so prepare to do so. It's difficult to make adjustments after hearing from all those who have differing viewpoints, as success depends on more than just winning over the end users. The goal is to persuade a single, very large group, including subconsultants, clients, client representatives, or even contractors. Many factors contribute to the difficulty of innovation, such as the fact that not everyone prioritises innovation and the fact that your expertise may point in multiple directions. As a result, it's important to recognise that more employees don't always guarantee better results or increased productivity. "There are occasions when it's necessary to follow a lot more rules." I am convinced that everyone involved in the construction industry should sit down and brainstorm solutions for improving not only the quality of the buildings but also the processes. For this reason, it is important to create a culture of trust among all those involved. Does it make sense that clients have a team of representatives that is often as large as the consultant’s team? Does it make sense that the consultants have a large site team when there is a pre-defined project? There are many points where it could be improved by creating instruments of trust between those involved.”
Sustainable solutions add value, not cost.
Sustainability has become something of a buzzword in the past few years. Nonetheless, the concept of sustainability has existed since the traditional archetypal clock.Sustainability is elementary logic. certainly not more than this.
People constructed buildings with crossed ventilation or shaded structures for long-term use. Nobody ever showed the public how to do this. However, people's daily routines lead them to make eco-friendly choices. Wind catchers, traditional streets, riads, and falajs are a fantastic example of environmental passive solutions that are common in this part of the world and can be used as a reference for how the local knowledge was applied to construction in order to improve the quality of life and make more sustainable buildings.
These days, if the topic of sustainability comes up, it’s usually associated with some sort of material, the building’s envelope, or the use of landscape, even though this is just a small step inside the sustainability concept. Sustainable principles do not mean that you must use more expensive solutions. There are several ways to do it, starting with using the appropriate means of design, such as the use of software that can simulate the impact of local weather, the use of local products, or simply taking advantage of natural ventilation or natural light. However, this is only a single facet of a much larger concept of sustainability. Green building is about more than simply the construction world; it also includes the education component. We can specify the most sustainable air conditioner system, but if people don’t know how to use it consciously, much of our efforts are wasted. Culture plays a crucial role in making sustainable practises possible, and all professionals working in this world should feel the responsibility not only to design but also to educate the end user. Each building, when finished, should be accompanied by a kind of instruction book where it is explained how to use the building, not only the most technical parts but also small habits such as when to ventilate the building, when to close the curtains, or simply how much water to use when a faucet is opened. The same can be applied at the city scale. What good is public transportation that is state-of-the-art in terms of being eco-friendly and sustainable if nobody uses it? It's not a good idea to put so much time and effort into something that no one will ever utilize. It's also about instilling this kind of sensibility in young minds from an early age, and that means teaching it not just in the classroom but also inside the family.
"In terms of interior design, there is also enormous potential in terms of sustainability." A good example is the massive use of open spaces as the latest trend in offices. Do all offices need to be open spaces when, in terms of sustainability, they are much less efficient? Interior design, like building design, requires working with the real needs of each client and providing answers based on real data rather than preconceived images. In other words, sustainability isn't simply a buzzword, and it's not even the next advancement in artificial intelligence. "Practical wisdom is all that's required for making sound choices in everyday life," said Gomes.
"As architects, we are tasked with working with problems, figuring out what those problems are, and then formalising solutions to those problems so that they may improve the quality of life." It's possible to make the appropriate choice in design and materials, or even to do nothing at all. "The architect's job isn't limited to construction; it also includes convincing the customer that certain elements are unnecessary or that there is a better method to accomplish their goals," he added further.
Gomes enjoys spending time with his loved ones, participating in sports, visiting the beach, and exploring local art galleries in his spare time. He found that since his arrival in Dubai, the art galleries and museums have improved but are still a step behind what we can find in other parts of the world. In any case, everything that the UAE has achieved as a country with only 50 years of history is truly remarkable and must be seen as a reference for all those who have the ambition to create a better world. And he enjoys getting lost with his family on long walks around the city's core, away from the hordes of tourists exploring unknown territories, hidden plazas, alleys, and eateries.