Ewa Juszczyk Senior Associate Director, Benoy, in her candid conversation explains the ideologies of her firm and its design approach, her work and significant projects, her views on the future façade and fenestration technologies, the importance and need for a well-designed building façade, and the trends in façade design.
Tell us about your practice and design approach?
Benoy is a global family of design specialists committed to delivering world-class destinations, with a history spanning more than 70 years. Balancing creative vision with commercial viability, we work with clients to create iconic designs, strengthen communities, enhance nature, and deliver lasting economic value. We specialize principally in master planning, architecture and interiors, focusing on agile, flexible, and experiential design. The design that is tailored to the needs of the people who live in, work in and use the destinations we create.
The start-point for creating ‘great places’ begins with an inherent understanding of location, population and the environment. We believe that when design solutions are culturally relevant, human-centric and sustainable, they have a major positive impact on people and places. Our goal is to create well-conceived buildings and public spaces that enhance social well-being and stimulate economic prosperity. Our aim is to be at the cutting-edge of everything we do and to be profitable and sustainable for our clients.
What inspired you to become an architect?
My main inspiration to become an architect was the need to give back to the community by creating better places and environments to enrich people’s lives. With a passion for design, innovation and culture my aim was to focus on creating a sustainable and aesthetically inspiring surroundings that provide a stimulating environment for all.
I presume you connect a lot of art and architecture in your projects?
While creating unique structures that echoes the natural and artistic elements of the local environment, we make use of numerous forms of lighting, showcasing a range of art pieces to create a visually stimulating and creative space. There has always been a blurred line between what is considered art and what is considered architecture, and we are always manipulating and playing with this relationship. Balancing creative vision with commercial viability, we work with clients to create iconic and sculptural features within each project.
Please talk about your projects featuring very innovative and diff erent kinds of façade designs.
I have been working on a vast array of projects since I arrive in the UAE in 2011. I was closely involved in creating the Galleria Mall in Abu Dhabi, the Beach in JBR, the City Walk in Dubai and the Bahrain Marina project. For all these schemes, we set out to create a lifestyle destination, sociable spaces, having an iconic design presence while creating and strong identity for the community. We focused on designs that embrace culture while emphasizing technology, innovation and youthful energy to create value within society.
Through detailed architecture and culturally relevant design, using a wide mix of natural and innovative materials, boasting various textures and ambient lighting, we created contemporary designs that respond to the surrounding streets and buildings. By integrating sustainable features, shading canopies, and a variety of building materials and solutions, we also inspired a sense of forward-thinking innovation.
Could you please tell us about the latest façade and cladding technologies and materials available in the UAE market?
Intelligent materials, being the result of great advancements in material engineering, appear in architecture in different applications from “switchable” partition glass laminates (like power glass, electrochromic glass); energy-generating technologies (including solar photovoltaic glass); transmission of changeable visual content (media mesh); self-cleaning building envelopes; self repairing concrete; phase-changing materials diminishing cooling loads in the buildings; materials that harden at the moment of impact; shape memory alloys and closing façade louvers, etc., to thin polymer films mimicking the function of living skin adopted as a building envelope.
What are your views on the future façade and fenestration technologies as well as materials?
All those new materials mentioned before fascinate designers with the possibility to create façades that are active, innovative, and “flexible” and that adapt to changing conditions, such as users’ needs and areas compatible with real, natural environments. Smart materials do not only make projects more unique and beautiful, but their application may bring real environmental and financial gains in the future.
What are the key factors to consider while designing and installing fenestration?
The Beach, Dubai – An iconic vista of Dubai’s waterfront, designed by Benoy is a mixed-use retail, leisure and food and beverage multiplex that seamlessly integrates into the surroundings
To assure the technical aspect is achieved, i.e. airtightness, avoiding thermal bridges (common mistake seen in the Middle East), application of high thermal performance façades, meeting u-value and required shading co-efficiency of windows and curtain walls. In the face of the new technologies, we should never forget the basic principles of design such as passive shading, natural light and comfort. The innovative systems should complement these fundamentals, instead of replacing.
How can intelligent façade bring in the greenhouse effect and also restrict the intensive use of air conditioning?
With growing focus on the green design, we are making sure the sustainability is thought through from the master plan stage by studying the buildings orientation and façade exposure to minimise the solar gain. Using passive design principles and incorporating urban analytics at early stage minimises the overheating issue and the requirement of an extensive use of shading devices and expensive materials at the later stage. By capturing and exploiting natural light, while avoiding the heat gain, electric lighting requirements can be reduced.
How do you go about choosing the material of façade and cladding?
The Galleria Mall, Abu Dhabi offers a contemporary and relaxed consumer experience that could inspire residents and visitors with its sense of luxury and prestige
To choose the materials, it is important to first study the local environmental conditions, heritage aspect and the natural materials used traditionally and sourced locally. The use of innovative materials should be in harmony with the area’s context and commercial, vibrant offering, and not to overpower the cultural identity of the places. The design and material selection should engage and activate the site with its surroundings, whilst creating a unique destination and a strong brand identity.
What is your advice for young and upcoming architects?
Think of architecture as an inspiring and sustainable space for people not only as a form of the building. Creating a space for people to inhabit, enjoy and socialise in is incredibly rewarding and inspiring; never compromise on your goal to improve the community.
Ewa Juszczyk, Benoy
Senior Associate Director
Ewa Juszczyk has an impressive international portfolio. An experienced architect with significant skills in the design and procurement processes, Ewa has worked on numerous projects involving concept design, schematic design, planning application submission, detailed design and the delivery of construction documentation. Working in architectural practices around the world, she now directs a large team with a host of disciplines and expertise to realize the design intent and develop effective technical solutions for each project. With over 15 years of industry experience, Ewa’s notable works include master planning, residential, hospitality, commercial, retail, transport, education and mixed-use projects. In the Middle East, she has worked on Bahrain Marina, a 135,000 Sq m luxury waterfront; The Galleria on Al Maryah Island, part of Abu Dhabi’s Financial Centre offering a wealth of retail and dining experiences; City Walk in Dubai, an iconic landmark of the city; The Beach in Dubai a waterfront destination and Riyadh Park Mall, one of Saudi Arabia’s most exciting lifestyle destinations.