Brijesh Bakhda, director of Kensington Real Estate, talks about unusual building designs and the importance of the design component in the construction industry.
How important is the design element in a building?
A good design is fundamental to meeting the objectives of a developer. If a developer is trying to create an iconic building, the design element will be critical in terms of the building aesthetics. On the other hand, if a developer is only looking at the numbers, the design element will be important from the point of minimising cost and maximising efficiency.
Some of the projects being announced are making news around the world.
One of the principal aims of our company is to create real estate developments that are distinguished by their architecture and design. A case in point is Kensington Krystal, with a leading architect's magazine describing the tower as "The Gem of Dubai Maritime City."
When you select an unusual design for your building, does the process of construction become difficult?
Unusual design doesn't necessarily mean that construction becomes difficult; but this obviously depends on how unusual the building is. Using a different colour of glass, having a distinctive external lighting design or playing with the façade of the building can create the effect of an unusual design without making construction overly complicated. However, yes, it is obvious that many of the unusual designs that we see in the region may prove to be challenging when it comes to construction.
When we commission designs that are distinctive and unusual, there is a great deal of consultation with both our architects and cost consultants beforehand to understand the practicality of the design and the related costs.
Do you feel developers are designing more outlandishly in an effort to stand out and are coming up with impractical building designs?
With the number of developments being announced, it is certainly the case that many developers will want to stand out by creating unusual buildings. As for being practical, it really is down to the objectives of the developer - creating an iconic structure is not always about being practical.
For someone that has a passion for real estate, it is fantastic to see the projects that are being conceived and commissioned for the region. Some of the projects being announced are making news around the world and putting the UAE on the radar for international property investors.
What are the challenges of building in the UAE?
The challenges of building in the UAE can also be seen as benefits. With strict regulations being introduced and with rising land and construction costs developers must have a solid capital base to enter into full-scale development projects. This is good for the market as it provides investors with more confidence and sets the stage for serious developers with a long-term vision.
Another challenge in today's market is that consultants and contractors are extremely busy; in fact many don't have the time to tender for work. In this environment, it becomes a challenge for developers to negotiate rates and also to accurately forecast costs.
How can these challenges be overcome?
The issue of rising land and construction costs is largely market driven and developers are ultimately subject to the prevailing market conditions. The nature of the contracts a developer enters into with consultants and contractors can help cap their financial exposure to a certain extent, although this will be at an inherent cost.
Having a long-term plan and multiple projects will obviously be of greater interest to consultants and contractors rather than a one-off development. At Kensington we strongly believe in building long term relationships with our working partners.
We invest a lot of time and effort in building the right team, a team that can share in our vision and can bring something special to every Kensington project. We then generally enter into a long term working commitment that provides a win-win scenario to both parties.
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