by STIRworldOct 31, 2022
Rising from the shifting sands of the desert in Sharjah, UAE, BEEAH Group’s new headquarters by Zaha Hadid Architects has finally opened its doors following an eight-year-long design and construction process. With a history stretching as far back as 2013, when the commission was awarded to the late Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid and her eponymous practice at the conclusion of an architectural competition, the building’s completed form is reportedly equipped to operate with LEED Platinum standards, in keeping with BEEAH Group’s commitment to pioneering sustainability and responsible waste management within the region. Inspired by the natural forms of the desert - namely the undulating profiles of interconnecting sand dunes - ZHA first revealed the project’s conceptual design in 2019. Now, after being inaugurated on March 30, 2022, by the Ruler of Sharjah, His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, it is expected to achieve net-zero emissions, while serving as the group’s new management and administrative centre.
Settled near the Al Sajaa industrial area, over a dynamic desert landscape shaped by prevailing winds, the building’s swooping curves - evoking the image of twin sand dunes - are a signature of Zaha Hadid Architects’ distinctive style, rooted in parametric design. The firm has described the structure as an embodiment of BEEAH Group’s twin pillared strategy of sustainability and digitisation, which the organisation applies in the fields of waste management and recycling, clean energy, environmental consulting, education and green mobility. The project was devised and executed in collaboration with sustainability engineers and consultants Atelier Ten and Buro Happold, project managers Matthews Southwest, construction contractor Al Futtaim Construction, and MEP engineers Al Futtaim Engineering. It features smart building technologies by Microsoft, Johnson Controls, and EVOTEQ - a BEEAH digital venture.
Zaha Hadid Architects relays in an official release, “The headquarters is the latest milestone for BEEAH Group as it continues to pioneer innovations in Sharjah and across the globe, establishing a base of operations for the group to diversify into new, future-critical industries. With their new headquarters, BEEAH demonstrates how technology can scale sustainable impact and ultimately serve as a blueprint for tomorrow’s smart, sustainable cities.”
Beyond a landscaped frontage, with pockets of dunes interspersed around an open plaza with water features, the sinuous massing of the façade design swerves and twists around spaces, to provide interior zones with ample daylight while constraining the surface area of glazed sections exposed to the sun. Glass reinforced fibre panels arranged in a tessellated, diamond pattern dress the building’s exterior and help in minimising solar gain, in combination with slab and glass cooling mechanisms that regulate interior temperatures in the harsh desert climate of Sharjah. Entry to the 9,000 sqm complex is through a 15-metre high dome, whose organic form is said to assist in creating natural ventilation cycles while also modulating the ingress of diffused daylight into the structure. Interestingly, despite its seemingly monumental height, the dome itself appears to rest quite low in the context with the rippling sand when viewed from a distance, almost blending into the terrain of the desert.
Public and management departments are hosted within the two main dunes, alongside an administrative zone that interconnects a pair of courtyards separated by a foyer at the heart of the development. As per ZHA, “This defines an oasis within the building which is integral to its natural ventilation strategy.” Extending the fluid design language of the building’s exterior inwards, a sculptural staircase sits at the centre of the plan, with rippling treads that cascade down from the upper floor.
BEEAH Group’s headquarters also contains an immersive visitors centre, smart meeting rooms, and an auditorium, in addition to open-plan office spaces. Contactless pathways, automated smart lighting and temperature management systems, a virtual concierge, and a companion app for automating day-to-day tasks are all integral to the cutting-edge user experience within these areas. Remote and hybrid work scenarios are supported within the building, through collaboration tools embedded into the interior design. The structure’s first floor accommodates offices for the organisation's upper management, along with a gallery space, board room, a pantry, and a majlis (assembly room).
In addition to the passive design strategies employed throughout the complex structural form, the building’s sustainable design features include on-site water treatment to minimise consumption in the arid climate, a solar farm that charges Tesla battery packs for energy needs, and a high percentage of locally procured building materials used in construction.
The design team at Zaha Hadid Architects concludes, “This is an important achievement for BEEAH Group, signalling its growth from a company founded to proactively tackle environmental issues in Sharjah, UAE, to an international group with businesses in industries that are critical to realising a sustainable future.”
Name: BEEAH Group Headquarters
Location: Sharjah, UAE
Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA)
Design: Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher
Project Director: Sara Sheikh Akbari
Commercial Director: Charles Walker
Project Team: Gerry Cruz, Drew Merkle, John Simpson, Matthew Le Grice, Maria Chaparro, Frenji Koshy, Leo Alves, Erwan Gallou, Vivian Pashiali, Alia Zayani, Alessandra Lazzoni, Dennis Brezina, Eider Fernandez-Eibar, Rasha Al-shami, Ben Kikkawa, Maria Vergopoulou-Efstathiou, Haohao Chen
Project Director (Phase 1) : Tariq Khayyat
Project Architect (Phase 1): Kutbuddin Nadiadi
Design Team: Gerry Cruz, Drew Merkle, Yuxi Fu, Xiaosheng Li, Edward Luckmann, Eleni Mente, Kwanphil Cho, Mu Ren, Harry Ibbs, Mostafa El Sayed, Suryansh Chandra, Thomas Jensen, Alexandra Fisher, Spyridon Kaprinis, John Randle, Bechara Malkoun, Reda Kessanti, Carolina López-Blanco, Matthew Johnston, Sabrina Sayed, Zohra Rougab, Carl Khourey, Anas Younes, Lauren Barclay, Mubarak Al Fahim
Competition Team: Xiaosheng Li, Gerry Cruz, Yuxi Fu, Drew Merkle, Lauren Barclay, Mostafa El Sayed, Alia Zayani, Mubarak Al Fahim
Structure/Façade/Acoustic/Transport & Civil: Buro Happold [London]
MEP/ Lighting/Fire Protection & Life Safety: Atelier Ten [London]
Sustainability (Design Stage): Atelier Ten [London]
Sustainability (Construction Stage): Buro Happold [Dubai]
Cost: Gardiner & Theobald [London]
Project Manager: Matthews Southwest [Dubai]
Landscape: Francis Landscape [Beirut]
Local Architect: Bin Dalmouk [Sharjah], DSA Architects International [Dubai]
Main Contractor: Al Futtaim Construction [Dubai]