Arada partners with AUS to design façades for infrastructure at Aljada

The developer’s latest collaboration with AUS follows the completion in 2021 of Al Janah Pavilion, which was designed and built by students from CAAD at Aljada

Arada and the American University of Sharjah (AUS) have collaborated to design a series of façade prototypes for the cladding of a substation at the Aljada megaproject in Muweileh. Sponsored by Arada, the Thick Skins design studio was a partnership between academic and industry partners that provided students with an important learning experience regarding architectural practice, including concept design, site analysis, design development, and coordination with consultants.

Taught by Associate Professor of Architecture Jason Carlow, a group of 18 students in their final year of studies at AUS’ College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) researched and designed innovative and meticulously detailed cladding systems for the existing substation, which is operated by Sharjah Electricity, Water and Gas Authority (SEWA). The students reviewed real-world benefits in a series of classes taken under the guidance of AUS faculty members and Arada’s design and creative teams, a statement from Arada noted.

“This collaboration with AUS is in line with Arada’s vision of creating open and inviting spaces that are designed for people and cities. Façade design for public infrastructure can play an important role in uplifting cities and this project also represents a great example of Arada’s determination to foster creative partnerships with key stakeholders in the local community. We were impressed by the quality of the students’ work and look forward to building on this experience by introducing further hands-on initiatives in the near future,” stated Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, Group CEO of Arada.

Designs submitted by the students for the façade, which has a perimeter of 369m and a height of 12m, adapted global architectural best practices to local conditions, providing a wide range of approaches. These included flexible designs to take into account differing environmental conditions or exposure to the sun, the sustainable use of recycled construction materials, as well as the design of deeper facades designed to integrate structures or offer compelling architectural spaces. As part of the project, students undertook field trips to factories and buildings in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as well as welcoming Evan Levelle, Principal of UK-based façade consultancy Front, who both presented his own work and reviewed their progress, the statement added.

Dr. Varkki Pallathucheril, Dean of CAAD at American University of Sharjah added, “We are always pleased to work with members of the private sector that are able to offer our students practical experience and skills that will prove invaluable in their future workplaces. We’re grateful to Arada for their support and guidance in providing a unique experience that encourages students to successfully tackle the challenges associated with real-life projects.”

The first review was said to have been centered on a prototypical towers skin module and was conducted by Huang Lee-Su, Instructional Assistant Professor at the University of Florida’s School of Architecture; Elie Mrad, Chief Architectural Officer at Arada; and Melissa Bayik, Senior Creative Director at Arada, while the second review focused on substation presentations and involved John Folan, Professor of Architecture at the University of Arkansas; Sand Helsel, Emeritus Professor at RMIT, and various faculty members from AUS.

The final presentation of the substation by the AUS students to Arada’s Group CEO, Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, was held in the presence of senior AUS faculty including CAAD Dean Varkki Pallathucheril; George Katodrytis, Professor of Architecture, and Jason Carlow, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, the statement said.

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