Architects need to design cooler buildings in the UAE as a result of higher temperatures says Emkaan

Muhammed Obaid, principal architect, partner and manager of EMKAAN Architecture and Engineering Consultancy in Dubai says creating cooler spaces in the UAE is vital. 

On a global scale, 2016 was officially the warmest year on record, with 2017 expected to follow suit.  This is according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) which attributes the increase in temperature to exceptionally low sea ice and a relentless rise in sea levels.

 With climates increasing globally each year, the UAE is also braced for yet another blistering hot summer in the coming months. Figures show that the highest maximum temperature ever recorded in the region was first evident in June 2010 – a scorching 52 degrees Celsius – and again making an appearance in 2015.  Meteorologists believe this year may again reach this figure, or even more.

The key to creating cooler spaces is efficient building designs. Operating in a place like the UAE, which experiences extreme temperatures for a large part of the year, means that one of our main considerations in all projects is to make the space as comfortable as possible.  This often centres around homes and buildings being a ‘cool’ space and a sanctuary away from the outdoor heat and humidity.

EMKAAN implements passive cooling in its designs, which is an approach that focuses on heat gain control and heat dissipation in a building in order to improve the indoor thermal comfort with low or no energy consumption.

Using panels made of phenolic material for warmer countries like the UAE, or investing in nano-technology paints that reduce energy consumption is also necessary for cooling, as well as purifying the air naturally.

Apart from interior cooling methods, creating a cooler space doesn’t only refer to buildings and indoor settings, but the larger outdoor environment too.  This is evident in the UAE’s frequent cloud seeding efforts to generate more rainfall, as the it is currently among the top 10 water-scarce countries in the world.

There have also been efforts in the past from engineers at Stanford University, who have invented a revolutionary coating material that can help cool buildings, even on sunny days. Called photonic radiative cooling, the ultra-thin, multi-layered material acts as a highly efficient mirror that reflects virtually all of the incoming sunlight that strikes it, and radiates heat away from the buildings and sends it directly into space.

Implementing efforts such as photonic radiative cooling here in the UAE is an innovative way of creating a cooler environment externally, and further contribute to creating an even more comfortable overall climate in the region.

Obaid has also recently commented that UAE architects should draw inspiration from heritage for happier communities.