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“Future Façades should Address Environmental and Sustainability Issues”
By: Ian Mason
Tell us About your Practice and Design Approach?
Woods Bagot is a people architecture company. We place human experience at the centre of our design process in order to deliver engaging, future oriented projects that respond to the way people actually use space. We do this as a global design and consulting studio with a team of over 1000 experts working across 15 studios in Australia, China, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and Southeast Asia.
Façades at D3 Design District, Dubai
Our global studio model allows us to work collaboratively across time zones and borders, using the latest technology to share design intelligence and strengthen our knowledge base around the world. We have been established in the Middle East for over 18 years. We have over 70 staff employed in our Middle East Studios, comprising 20 Nationalities.
What are the Milestones you have Achieved to Date?
I am very thankful to have had the opportunity through my career to lead high profile projects in a number of countries around the world. The BBC North development in Salford, near Manchester in the UK, and the Radio Television Building in Brunei along with several high-profile football and rugby clubs both in the UK and abroad, to name but a few, and now with woods bahut a significant project in Dubai.
What inspired you to become an Architectural Technician?
I have had a great enthusiasm for technical design drawing as far back as I remember. The precision and interest in detail fascinated me and still does. Working on many different building types, sizes and locations over the past 30 years have meant a constant variety of ideas, challenges, and changes in technology. Woods Bagot is constantly looking to move forward and innovate, which is a great environment to work in. Drawing on the expertise from our global studio is a buoyant environment for sharing fresh new ideas and technology.
I Presume you connect a lot of Art and Architecture in your Projects. Please talk about your Projects featuring very Innovative and different kinds of Façade and Fenestration Designs.
Art and architecture are undoubtedly closely related. Whilst our designs are people-centric, Woods Bagot is a highly creative global studio. Uncompromising design and rigorous curiosity are two of our key values. There are many elements that go into the process. Meaningful design and narrative are crafted and informed by structured and inspired storytelling, research and evaluation. The creation of spaces and places and all the elements that make up the whole is a craft. The finished result inspires or evokes a feeling and provides an experience.
Woods Bagot is very proud to have worked on the Bluewaters Retail Development, which has over 40 cladding typologies that have been developed to provide a unique appearance to each cluster of buildings. The many different façades used in the development provide a unique environment of discovery through the use of multiple layering of materials, texture, colours, and lighting. Each building has integrated specialist lighting which together with the rich façade palette helps to provide an active and animated development. With a unique number of façade typologies in one project, we feel our experience has been brought to bear in understanding the complexities entailed with designing a development with over 100 buildings in close proximity.
Could you Please tell us about the Latest Façade and Cladding Technologies and Materials available in the UAE Market and those you used in your Project?
In this Bluewaters Retail project, 40 cladding typologies have been developed to provide a unique appearance to each cluster of buildings
One of our current projects in the UAE has a bespoke design for the high span curtain wall mullions that have been manufactured specifically for the project. This is combined with a high-performance clear glass façade, with feature frit pattern in a key element of the façade, to add further shading performance to the interior spaces. We are also using a mesh made from a recyclable polycarbonate system and using it in a relatively new way to create a significant lighting feature element on a project under construction.
What are your Views on the Future Façade and Fenestration Technologies as well as Materials?
The future of technologies must ensure that systems address the ongoing client and industry concerns with regards to the fire spread in façade systems. Façades must also be designed and utilised to be more responsive, including addressing environmental and sustainability issues. The development of façades should have a positive impact on buildings energy use which can include opportunities to be richer in materiality, which should also respond to how the façades work and respond to their surroundings. An active façade can manage internal environments by modifying characteristics of a façade dynamically as well as controlling external environmental parameters.
Studies have shown that these modifications can improve the performance of the active façade significantly in comparison with the static façade systems. SAHMRI’s design and construction team worked collaboratively to deliver a flexible, adaptable, healthy and sustainable facility which has achieved LEED oGOLD rating and recently received the 2015 Laboratory of the Year Award. Awards include: 2014 South Australian Architecture Award winners: – Jack McConnell Award for Public Architecture – Derrick Kendrick Award for Sustainable Architecture.
How do you go about Choosing the Material of Façade and Cladding?
The building concept, design narrative, and sustainability would always be the starting point for the façade considerations, which would then lead to reviewing the materiality that best suited the concept design. The finish of the materials would be considered which leads to the investigation of façade and cladding systems that would achieve the desired look and feel. Looking at innovations in technology keeps your knowledge fresh and up to date. Explore ways to constantly push forward and innovate. We rigorously review our designs and many factors are considered including suitability for the environment which would include performance, sustainability, life span and durability, and cost considerations.
What is your Advice for Young and Upcoming Architects?
Never be afraid to explore new ideas and push boundaries. Explore new technologies and exercise curiosity to help develop design proposals. This will ensure a depth of understanding is gained of the procedures required, new and future systems they may wish to use. Ask for insights from your colleagues and industry professionals. Collective intelligence is a key part of Woods Bagot’s philosophy. Sharing ideas and experiences leads to a design that resonates with the richness of knowledge gained.
I mentor staff as part of the Woods Bagot scheme to help develop the skills of our upcoming architects and would always recommend that people try to gain site experience to help illustrate and understand how the design developed is built, understanding the skills of site team members and contractors. Having the experience of being on-site brings the project to life and living the life of a project from inception to completion and use brings immense satisfaction.
Ian Mason is a Senior Associate and Senior Architectural Technologist with over 30 years of experience and has worked across many different sectors. Throughout his career, he has gained experience in dealing with a variety of clients worldwide, design team consultants and specialists on projects in the UK, Dubai, Azerbaijan, Brunei, and Australia. He has led project teams on large, complex projects with responsibility from design to site stage works and has a particular interest in façade design. He has been working in the UAE for 2 years and currently the project leader for a major project on the Expo 2020 site. In conversation with the team of Window & Façade Magazine, Ian Mason talked about his journey in the architectural field, the landmark projects Woods Bagot has done, etc.