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Top architectural trends in MENA: 2022 roundup

Article-Top architectural trends in MENA: 2022 roundup

Sustainable architecture
Cityscape Intelligence looks at the major trends around sustainability and technological innovation in architecture in the region and how they’re materialising in 2022.


The work-from-home culture that developed over the last couple of years has relaxed the work environment from pre-pandemic times, resulting in businesses now looking to make better use of their work spaces. Interior designers are increasingly being asked to design hybrid spaces that promote learning, innovation and social interaction, to match the more casual attitude to work as well as save space. Zaza Interior Design’s new office in City Walk in Dubai showcases just how that can be achieved, by transforming their daytime business workspace into a fluid, communal social space at night.

On a larger scale, entire buildings are also being designed with a people-centric focus, balancing the needs of the structure with sustainable practices and wellness. It was announced in April 2022 that AS+GG Architecture will be designing its first project in Egypt’s New Administrative Capital with this in mind.


Now that Expo 2020 has come to a close, its LEED certified built assets are being repurposed and converted into District 2020, a mixed-use smart city. District 2020 is expected to welcome its first tenants in October 2022, just six months after the Expo ended. All thanks to innovative and sustainable building solutions that were employed in constructing the Expo buildings, allowing for at least 80 percent of them to be efficiently deconstructed and repurposed.


The construction sector accounts for nearly 40 percent of all carbon emissions globally, and the operation of existing buildings account for nearly 28 percent of that. So alongside constructing new energy efficient structures, retrofitting existing buildings to make them more energy efficient is becoming increasingly critical, particularly because demolition is environmentally expensive. Abu Dhabi held the second Retrofit Tech Summit earlier in June 2022 and announced earlier this year that it will be retrofitting over 30 existing buildings with more energy efficient technology to align it with the UAE’s plans for a greener future.


Construction activities are traditionally heavily water intensive and industry players are looking at ways to conserve water. In Saudi Arabia, Dewan Architects have completed the design phase of the Al Qiddiya water park project and are now supervising the construction. In line with Saudi Arabia’s vision for sustainability, the architects are using smart technologies and highly advanced environment systems that reduce water usage by 75 percent compared to traditional methods. They are also exploring technologies for reducing water wastage through evaporation.


Many construction companies are moving towards Building Information Modelling systems (BIM), which connect all stakeholders in the project so that data can be effectively communicated in real time and project adjustments made accordingly. This is a major shift from how projects have historically been managed with fixed timelines and milestones and consequent delay penalties. BIM is improving transparency, efficiency, collaboration, productivity and profitability, and is picking up pace in the region.


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