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Façade Design – A Response to Site Context
Siddharth Ramnathan, VS Design Studio
Case 1: Research and Development Facility for Jazeera Paints, Saudi Arabia
Jazeera Paints is a leading paint company founded in Saudi Arabia in 1979. The client brief was to create a Modern Research and Development facility, one that sets a benchmark for future projects by establishing itself as a landmark for Jazeera Paints, its ethos, and future goals. The 35,000 sq.ft. G+ 1 facility aims to be an inspiring workplace for paint scientists, industrial engineers, and developers. The purpose of this facility is to consolidate the research, testing, and exhibition of Jazeera Paints into a single space and create a highly functional, flexible, enjoyable, and collaborative work environment.
ARCHITECTURE – The site located in an industrial neighborhood is situated in a province that is home to a UNESCO world heritage site “Rijal Almaa’’. The typical South-Arabian vernacular architecture here is charming and colorful, adding to the vibrancy of the mountainous terrain it is situated in. ART – Art in the region is vibrant, full of color and texture, where patterns are vividly painted inside the traditional houses of Abha. Art is an integral part of the culture here and is preserved and displayed outside on the streets of Abha.
VS Design studio took Inspiration from the unique local climate and cultural context of the site. Set in mountainous terrain the temperature in Abha ranges between 36°C to 16°C in peak summer and 19°C to 6°C in peak winter. It rains for three months in a year and the predominant wind direction is southwest. All these climatological aspects were conducive to creating a micro-climate within the building and instrumental in shaping the Architectural response.
Considering the industrial neighborhood the planning aimed to internalize the views from the labs and the office spaces. Staggering the building volume strategically multiple inner courtyards and double height spaces were created to encourage visual connectivity and to draw natural light into the facility. The sizes and locations of these courtyards were studied to maximize daylight for the summer and winter months. Each courtyard offers a diverse kind of engagement with nature. Moreover, the massing of the building allows for interaction between levels as well. For instance, three research labs on the ground floor have skylights with planters around them with the aim of creating a visual and physical connection to nature and in between levels.
The outer façade is articulated by fins that draw inspiration from geometric patterns used for decorating the outer walls in traditional houses in Abha. Narrow slit windows minimize heat gain on the south façade and animate the interior spaces during the course of the day. Floor-to-ceiling glazed façade systems along the inward-looking walls create a feeling of openness and allow engagement with landscape elements. Sliding doors along the courtyards, when opened up facilitate natural ventilation to the communal spaces. Raw materials like Corten Steel and Concrete were selected for the façade to represent a modern industrial Research and development Facility and to stay true to the character of its industrial location.
The facility is LEED silver-rated and sustainable design measures such as rainwater management, and intelligent lighting solutions have been adopted. As a lot of chemicals are used in the paint formulation process specialized extraction systems have been provided in the labs to ensure good indoor air quality and general health and safety. Native plant species have been proposed to minimize irrigation water demand. Green areas with outdoor workspaces are provided to encourage employee wellness. Artistic elements such as sculptures, hanging, 3d wall installations, and wall graphics are also incorporated to narrate the story of the brand. The design overall focuses on occupant wellness and aims to create a building that is human-centric in experience
Architecture & Interior Design: VS Design Studio (VSDS)
Materials used for façade & fenestration: Corten steel by Kingspan, GFRC panels, Glazing by Guardian Glass, aluminium glazing system by Technal
Commencement Date & Completion Date: November 2022 – April 2024
Built-up Area: 35,500 sq. ft.
Sustainability: LEED Silver
MEP: Green Concept Engineering consultants
Landscape: Fiona Environs
Specialist Lighting: StudioN
Sustainability: Green Initiative
Art consultant: Capsule Arts
Case 2: Luxury Villa, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Designed as a luxury private residence the villa is located in an urban neighborhood in Riyadh. The massing is shaped by site constraints and the social, and environmental context. Considering the plot overlooks three other villas that are built very close to the boundary, VS Design studio decided to create an inward-looking house around a central courtyard whereby the key habitable spaces such as Living rooms and bedrooms overlook landscaped courts and terraces.
The central courtyard functions as a communal space adjacent to the formal living and helps create a micro climate within the house. The floating mass beyond the courtyard shades the indoor pool and also facilitates natural ventilation. The ground floor walls are clad with stone to appear like stone blocks holding the massing above.
The simple yet sculptural façade of the first and second floor acts as a veil to ensure privacy from the neighbors and conceals courtyards and terraces that act as sheltered open spaces within the house and provide ample opportunities for outdoor living. One such terrace located on the first floor and adjacent to the family living has façade screens that filter daylight and create a play of light and shadow during the day. A cozy fireplace provides warmth as one sits and gazes at the night sky.
The landscape design strategy uses native plant species to stay relevant to the site context and yet provide comfortable and casual outdoor spaces. A high local limestone-clad boundary wall insulates the villa from the street and a reflecting pool at the main entrance of the villa creates a calming influence as one enters the villa. Overall the layering of spaces and integration of architecture, interior design, and landscape design create beautiful spaces to live and play.
Location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Architecture, Interior Design & Landscape: VS Design Studio (VSDS)
Materials used for façade & fenestration: EIFS by Terraco, Equitone Linea by Obras, Travertine and Limestone cladding. Glazing by Guardian Glass, Aluminium glazing system by Technal.
Estimated Completion Date: October 2022 – January 2024
Built-up Area: 25,000 sq. ft.
Structure & MEP: Buruoj Engineering consultants
Specialist Lighting: StudioN
Siddharth Ramnathan, VS Design Studio
Partner & Design Director
Siddharth Ramnathan, leads the architecture design department at VS Design studio. His journey of design began in India where he worked on 5-star hospitality and commercial projects. He wanted to raise the bar and explore designing in different regions, and Dubai was the next step in his career. He moved to Dubai in 2005 and has since worked on a number of prestigious hospitality, high-end residential, and master planning projects in the Middle East region. He is extremely passionate about architectural design and how it influences people. He strives to incorporate elements of nature into the buildings he designs.