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Vibrant Technik

“We have the responsibility & ability to tackle today’s and tomorrow’s most burning issue: Climate Change”

By: Sam Robinson, Hydro Building Systems

In an exclusive interview with  Sam Robinson Managing Director – Middle East, India & South East Asia, Hydro Building Systems talked about the journey of Technal, the products they offer in the market, the benefits of their products, and so on, checkout the excerpts here

Please brief us on the history and objective behind the formation of your company?

Created in Toulouse in 1960, TECHNAL®, a French brand is part of the Hydro group. In the Middle East, the company has its headquarters ‘Hydro Building Systems Middle East’ in Bahrain, which mainly operates in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, and supports the South Asia region mainly India and South East Asia. With over 40 years of experience and around 100 people in Bahrain & Dubai offices, it is also the technical hub for the South Asia region for Hydro Building Systems.

The French Pavillion
The French Pavillion Image Courtesy: BOEGLY + GRAZIA

In addition to its 60 years of global experience in creating innovative solutions for aluminium windows, doors, and façades, TECHNAL® has also gained experience on the five continents where it operates. This legacy has allowed it to work with a large number of architects, some well-known, others emerging, which has resulted in the acquisition of a global vision that knows no bounds, enabling it to provide effective solutions to the most complex architectural issues.

Address Sky Views
Address Sky Views Image Courtesy: Ales Vyslouzil

TECHNAL® systems offer an optimal solution, for modern architecture combining outstanding energy performance with innovative ventilation solutions, maximum light provision, and safety performances. Thanks to the in-house testing and innovation center, TECHNAL® systems undergo multiple tests on finished products, including a wide range of performances tests: mechanical strength, opening-closing, maneuverability, shocks, thermal resistance, resistance to corrosion, weather resistance (air permeability, water tightness, wind pressure resistance) and acoustics in EN and ASTM standards.

Thanks to its globally recognised expertise and increasingly innovative and powerful technical solutions, the brand can respond to new challenges daily, resulting in creative, intelligent, and liberated architecture. In a word, it’s life! As a market leader, its excellence, know-how, unique design, and innovative vision have set the standard in France and throughout the world.

Al Bayt stadium
Al Bayt stadium Image Courtesy: Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy

TECHNAL® solutions can be adapted to each project, linking inside and outside spaces with large dimensions, pure design, and maximum performance, to meet the various needs of the construction and residential markets, from new builds to renovations. We also develop tailor-made solutions to meet the aesthetic and comfort requirements of our customers.

Imagination makes the world go round. Here at TECHNAL®, it’s our driving force and way of doing things. It allows us to move forward, innovate and inspire. Where others see just a window, we see scope to introduce cutting-edge technology, catering to end users desires, and addressing sustainability. “We see the future”.

Please highlight briefly your products.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Image Courtesy: SSHIC

At TECHNAL®, we prefer to describe our range as flexible, rather than wide. In our view, the difference lies not only in variety but in versatility, efficiency, and capacity for implementation that meets the needs of any space. We provide solutions that connect indoor and outdoor spaces with large glazed surfaces and highly versatile designs that respond to market needs. We also develop products that cover the specific needs of each country, which widens our area of influence. TECHNAL® has made-to-measure solutions for all your projects, adding personality and unique levels of comfort.

Al Thumama Stadium
Al Thumama Stadium Image Courtesy: Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy

TECHNAL® offers architectural aluminum systems that are designed to inspire contemporary architecture such as unitised façades, curtain walls, doors, windows, sliding doors, balustrades, conservatories, and pergolas. Furthermore, TECHNAL® specialises in the supply of safety and security solutions such as fire-rated, bulletproof, blast-proof, and burglar-resistant windows, doors, and façades.

Could you please tell us about a few of your prestigious projects and the innovations you made?

Building Facades - TechnalOver the last 40 years, TECHNAL® has executed a wide range of projects from iconic highrise buildings to stunning hotels to uber-luxurious villas. Some of the projects which have won several accolades and awards in the recent past include – Address Sky Views, Burj Vista, Dubai Design District, Warner Brothers Hotels and Masdar Neighbourhood in the UAE, the prestigious Red Sea Coastal Village and KAPF (Sofitel Hotel) in KSA, the iconic FGRF tower in Bahrain, Oriental Mandarin hotel in Oman and the most iconic Lusail Plaza Towers in Qatar. In the recently completed Expo 2020 in Dubai, TECHNAL® was involved in several pavilions such as the French Pavillion, UAE Pavillion, and the iconic Expo Village which hosted millions of travellers, tourists, and support staff of the Expo.

Some great innovations of TECHNAL® will also be seen at the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year which is built with the highest levels of Sustainable Standards. One such project is the Al Bayt Stadium where we have used our patented concealed hinged glass door solutions for the entrances and luxurious hotel rooms inside the stadium! A wide range of TECHNAL® solutions will also be in action at the Ras Abou Aboud Stadium inspired by containers for disassembly, the Al Thumama Stadium, and the iconic Lusail Stadium, where the finals of the FIFA World Cup will be played later in December 2022!

What advantages does Technal have over its competitors?

Expo Village
Expo Village Image Courtesy: Propsearch LLC

There are two strong partners for our business in the Middle East – the architects and the customers. Our experienced design and technical support teams with over 1000 years of combined experience are on hand to work closely with designers, architects, consultants, and specifiers to achieve the best qualitative application solutions for all kinds of residential & commercial buildings. We offer a wide range of proprietary TECHNAL® products for architectural aluminium applications and have the capabilities to respond to individual project needs through bespoke designs for specific schemes, performance enhancements, and innovations.

Lusail Stadium
Lusail Stadium Image Courtesy: Foster + Partners

Our Support for architects and consultants includes:
• Concept designs in BIM
• Engineering solutions & services
• Wind-load & other static calculations,
• Uw values CAD drawings

TECHNAL® in the Middle East has one of the largest Customers network of skilled metal builders across the region (commonly known in the industry as aluminium fabricators), all fully supported technically, commercially, and logistically, ensuring the best and consistent services are delivered and stringent international standards and norms are met.

FGRF Tower Bahrain
FGRF Tower Bahrain Image Courtesy: MSCEB

For our customers, we offer a wide range of supports, including:
• An ongoing training and workshop programs,
• Factory and site audits,
• Technical assistance,
• All to guarantee the quality achievement of manufacturing and installation.

Our Customers can rely on a strong logistics operation that includes a sizeable integrated Central Distribution Warehouse which sprawls over 70,000 sq ft in Bahrain and which delivers all products to every country consistently and on time.

To promote digitalisation to our customer network, we offer the TECHNAL® TechDesign® estimation software. TechDesign® is an essential aid to creative design and drawings, as well as to professional tender documents. It helps TECHNAL® Customers to calculate precisely all types of architectural aluminium applications for windows, doors, façades, skylights, balustrades, internal office partitions, etc… and outputs quotations, estimation sheets, 2D & 3D viewing, DWG cross sections, generates generate BIM families thanks to its interoperable connectivity to Tech 3D – TECHNAL®’s BIM object configurator for windows, doors, and façades.

The approach is trusted and well perceived by architects, contractors, developers, home owners, end users, and TECHNAL® metal builders, resulting in lasting and mutually beneficial business relationships in every country. Our service and commitment to proactively addressing customer requirements is what sets us apart from our competition. This is a true testimony to our market-leading position in the region – our valuable customers.

Could you please tell us about your manufacturing facility and capacity?

Lusail Plaza Towers in Qatar
Lusail Plaza Towers in Qatar Image Courtesy: Foster + Partners

Currently, TECHNAL® in the Middle East has established hubs of production in each country from Bahrain, Oman, KSA, Egypt, Qatar, and UAE in order to service more efficiently the local market needs and promote ‘In-Country Value’ and the local GDP. TECHNAL® proudly promotes its patented single-source hardware, fittings, and accessories which offer un-compromised quality and long-lasting performance which is desired by the project owners and stakeholders.

Sustainability in recent years has become one of the major focuses in the Building industry. What does sustainability mean to you and how sustainable your products are?

At TECHNAL®, we believe, we have the responsibility and the ability to tackle today’s and tomorrow’s most burning issue: climate change. Earth is warming, and it is caused by humans. This threatens every form of life and urgent action needs to be taken if we want our planet to survive. Moreover, the world’s population is predicted to increase by 2 billion people in the next 30 years with 70% of the population living in urban areas, which means at TECHNAL®, we will likely see a higher demand for the building and construction sector. With more and more people living in buildings, this implies an increasing energy consumption and thus, skyrocketing CO2 emissions.

The urge to rethink our products and processes has been even more challenging with growing pressure coming from regulations – from the European and international level with new norms and constraints for carbon neutrality; but also from national laws becoming more and more demanding. Moreover, we notice that developers in the Middle East are also actively seeking low carbon solutions – which is an ideal playground for TECHNAL®.

There are challenges in the building industry:

Masdar Neighbourhood
Masdar Neighbourhood Image Courtesy: bayut.com

• We are all aware of the climate crisis and environmental problems that we all need to work together to solve. The lifecycle of products – from manufacture to destruction – needs to be a priority when it comes to choosing certain products over others.

• A circular economy aims to start up new industrial processes that respond to these needs for recyclability and reuse of products. Many products manufactured that uphold these principles are now certified with the Cradle to Cradle seal.

TECHNAL® in line with these guidelines and aims already has a wide range of aluminium building systems with the Cradle to Cradle distinction.

How do you see the Middle East market for your business? What are the opportunities?

Ras Abou Aboud Stadium
Ras Abou Aboud Stadium Image Courtesy: Fenwick-Iribarren Architects

As mentioned earlier, sustainability will be a big driver for developers and governments in the Middle East. The use phase is an important part of the lifecycle of a building. The most efficient way to reduce operational emissions is to offer performance products to optimise the energy consumption once the building is used. The less energy that is consumed, the less energy is produced, and the fewer emissions are generated. We develop high-performance products which meet high requirements for thermal insulation, low maintenance, energy performance, comfort, and acoustics.

In addition to operational carbon, the focus will now shift to embodied carbon. To build with a truly visionary mind involves taking our future seriously, including understanding the exhaustibility of our resources. We are convinced that the future of urban planning is unimaginable without the sustainable reuse of materials. Today, our group Hydro offers CIRCAL, a range of premium aluminium manufactured from 75% post consumer recycled aluminium (such as windows, doors, and façades that have been removed from buildings and fully recycled).

Red Sea Coastal Village
Red Sea Coastal Village Image Courtesy: The Red Sea Development Company

This makes Hydro CIRCAL among the lowest carbon footprint in the world – around 2 Kg of CO2 – which is 84% or 6 times lesser than the world average for primary extraction. TECHNAL® windows, doors, and façades are now available with Hydro CIRCAL which guarantees buildings promote low carbon buildings. We are also happy to announce recently the development of CIRCAL 100R – which is an alloy made from 100% post-consumer recycled content that further pushes the boundary when it comes to promoting nearly carbon-neutral building façades!

What are your plans for the next 4-5 years? Do you have any geographical expansion plans or plans to include new products in your portfolio?

From a product point of view, we are constantly innovating and offering new solutions to cater to the market needs. From our new launch of TECHNAL® Artline, one of the slimmest panaromic sliders in the market to introducing TECHNAL® Tental, our new range of high performance, circular, large format curtain wall systems, the feedback and acceptance of these products have been phenomenal. We will continue to expand our product offering in these categories. We have also launched a new range of TECHNAL® inline sliders which have the highest performance in the inline sliding door category and offer exceptional budget-friendly propositions for developers and contractors who are looking for economic solutions without compromising quality and performance.

Warner Brothers Hotel
Warner Brothers Hotel Image Courtesy: Miral

As a market, we have great ambition in Egypt. We are extremely happy about the confidence of the TECHNAL® brand within the Egyptian construction fraternity. We are moving in with investments and partnerships in the coming period to keep up with the steady growth in the Egyptian construction and development movement, especially in New Cairo, the new administrative capital, the new city of El Alamein, and also Giza Governorate. TECHNAL® products are now readily available in the Egyptian market and meet the demands of the local market needs and evolving architectural needs of the modern Egyptian construction fabric.

We are also proud to have supplied two projects with Hydro CIRCAL, which also demonstrates Egypt’s push toward sustainable construction and adopting low carbon façades in its agenda. This gives a great opportunity for TECHNAL® to further expand its sustainable footprint in Egypt in the coming 4-5 years

Sam Robinson, Hydro Building Systems

Managing Director - Middle East, India & South East Asia

Sam Robinson: is the Managing Director of Hydro Building Systems Middle East, India and South-East Asia. Managing a team of over 130 executives, he is responsible for overseeing the overall operations, and effective promotion of widespread distribution of key Hydro Building Systems brands WICONA®, TECHNAL® and SAPA®. He has over thirty years of construction industry experience ranging from building contracting, aluminium fabrication and architectural aluminium systems. Sam was previously leading the operations at a leading contracting company for a tenure of four years and subsequently joined Alico Aluminium where he took on several responsibilities and functions for eight years. Sam has competed nineteen years in Hydro Building Systems Middle East, where he has taken several leadership roles from heading the supply chain, logistics, and sales and now overseeing the entire operations for Bahrain, UAE, KSA, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Phillipines and Australia.

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