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Trends in Architectural Hardware in the Middle East
Rolf Manuel, Al Marafi Architectural Products FZCO
Door hardware makes up a relatively small investment cost relative to the overall estimated cost of a project. But then again door hardware has an impact on the facility out of proportion to their cost. The appearance and function of the doors and door hardware are scrutinised daily by the building occupants and visitors.
Having spent several years in this industry, I have always kept with me the famous quote which says “The lever handle on the door is the first handshake you make before entering a building”.
Projects are nowadays mostly won on the selection of a designer handle that pleases the end client’s taste towards aesthetics and finishes. Thus, the revolution of architectural door hardware has evolved over a period of time in both regulations and standards and design-wise.
We will not go into the life-cycle testing and fire and safety directives of the hardware but will concentrate more on what are the changing trends towards architectural hardware in the Middle East.
I do remember distinctly when I entered the threshold of my career in architectural door hardware when aesthetics was not much thought of and only stainless steel finishes or polished stainless steel played a major role in the supply of 80 per cent of projects, mechanical hardware made up for 90 per cent of the project with 10 per cent going to electromechanical hardware for the vicinity.
All hardware installed in areas, whether the front of the house or back of the house areas, were all uniform. Certifications on fire ratings and life safety regulations or cycle testing of hardware items were not much of an emphasis applied.
As the Middle East construction market started to grow at a rapid pace it left a disarray among architectural hardware manufacturers and suppliers to get their act together. We started to see more stringent fire and life safety regulations being put into force as the towers kept rising, it is not that the regulations and codes were not existent, they were but not very familiar with them, and this made way for BS EN (British Standard & European Norms) and ANSI (American National Standards Institute) regulations to come into force bringing in quality and aesthetics along the course.
Today, the architectural hardware used in the Middle East has paved the way for the world to follow in terms of solutions and aesthetics. Today, the trend has changed from more mechanical to electro-mechanical as the world turns to a more digitalised age the transformation in architectural hardware has kept up with the pace and has transformed itself to cater to the requirements and solutions of the comfort of the client’s requirements, the change from only mechanical to electro-mechanical is still moving the future could see a 50/50 ratio in the coming future.
The designs and finishes have moved into contemporary whilst not forgetting the heritage and culture that can still be seen today. The finishes of the hardware have moved on from the normal stainless steel finishes to PVD (Gold both polished and matt), black matt, antique bronze, and brass.
Today, different areas (front of the house and back of the house in case of hotel projects) or schools, hospitals, commercial buildings, banks, and malls have different designs and finishes to complement the interior design or door finishes.
The current trending finish in the Middle East is ‘Matt Black” and the demand seems to keep growing making manufacturers and suppliers offer the same within their complete range of products with regards to the designs the hardware items have become sleeker and squared from being circular.
Having some of the tallest and best-designed towers here in the Middle East, it has been a boon for architectural hardware manufacturers and suppliers to go beyond designs and customisation for the project requirements thus raising the bar for architectural hardware manufacturers around the world.
The architectural hardware industry is not dormant as it keeps changing at a rapid pace concerning new designer hardware, solutions, finishes regulations, and codes. The future seems nothing less than what is unfolding today in the architectural hardware industry.
Rolf Manuel, Al Marafi Architectural Products FZCO
Project Sales Manager
Rolf Manuel is working as a Project Sales Manager at Al Marafi Architectural Products FZCO. He has spent a career span of 13 years in the architectural hardware industry in the Middle East market and is a 2nd level certified holder from the Guild of Architectural Ironmongers. Manuel has worked with some of the reputed manufacturers and suppliers in the region while directly being involved in creating the specifications, hardware schedules or direct execution and also on a consultancy basis. He has seen the changing dynamics in the architectural Hardware industry and claims that the future holds nothing less than a very competitive and accelerating future ahead.