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Construction Innovation & Design Forum 2019 Review

Construction and Design industry goes hand-in-hand in various ways. A booming construction sector gives a great boost to the design industry. According to the reports, GCC countries will be awarded projects worth over $138.5bn in 2019. Thanks to the mega infrastructure and commercial projects, which are currently either under construction or in the pipeline across the region’s major economies. This amazing expansion in the construction sector directly results in the demand for design and architectural services. Construction Innovation & Design Forum 2019 taps the pulse of these two dynamic industries in the region raising crucial questions and inviting the leading experts to share their valuable opinions. The Forum presented an opportunity for the attendees to get acquainted and explore some exciting industry topics such as fit-out technology, preparing for digital future, real estate and property investment, and can a good design is a solution to all the problems?


Topic 1: What’s next in fit-out technology?

Human intelligence and modern technology are doing wonders in the field of fit-out. Be it the BIM, PIM Software, 3D visualisation apps or Point Clouds, technology is an essential part of any fit-out project. These technologies are a boon and help in simplifying the tasks. This is what our experts had to say on this topic:

Picture from Left to Right: Moderator – Kasun Illankoon, Мichael Dudnyk, Head of Company and Project Consultant, MUSE Interior Design, Dimitri Papakonstantinou, Managing Director, ASI, and Sunil P Stanly, Principal Architect, Inner Space Interior Design LLC


Мichael Dudnyk, Head of Company and Project Consultant, MUSE Interior Design:

“Next steps in construction and fit out, there will more common usage of 3D-printing, bigger choice of materials for this technology. Companies will start using more robotics for dangerous works. Of course – wider usage of artificial intelligence. Finally, new technologies probably will close some professions but at the same time they will give us more safety, more time and opportunities for creativity.”

Sunil P Stanley, Principal Architect, Inner Space Interior Design LLC:

“To me the term technology means employing intelligence to solve problems which cannot be solved otherwise. Like using fire for cooking… that might be the first technology mankind ever implemented. Now the use of technology in ‘fit-out’ which for simplicity we shall call interior design and build. Particularly the ’Design industry’ must empathize the human needs which is inclusive of emotional needs which are best done by human interaction and assistance. Any tools to improve human interaction shall be welcomed. But, and that’s a big fat but, the so-called digital technology is taking away the human touch and its nuances should be carefully evaluated before implementing.”


Dimitri Papakonstantinou, Managing Director, ASI:

“In the recent years there has been a concerted interest from all sectors of the industry to implement new technologies which will improve the way we work. Personally looking forward to these exciting changes.”


Topic 2: Embracing disruption and preparing for the digital future

Picture from Left to Right: Moderator – Kasun Illankoon, Sherief Elabd Director of Industry Strategy and Innovation Oracle Construction and Engineering, Mansour Faried, Chief Engineer and Director of Engineering department, CSCEC Middle East, and, Alan Wragg – Commercial Manager, Intermass

Digital technologies are disrupting the industry, providing new opportunities to address the challenges of poor profitability/productivity, project performance, skilled labor shortages, and sustainability concerns.
Digitisation will change most everything, including the competitors and the barriers to entry. The end result: a more productive and profitable industry that builds more sustainable assets. Construction companies must take steps now to join the digital future and stay ahead of the competition—or risk being left behind.

Mansour Faried, Chief Engineer and Director of Engineering Department, CSCEC Middle East:

“The digitalization concept hits the construction projects over its various life cycle stages, starting form design stage, where digital transformation and advanced visualization techniques are currently enabling stakeholders to confirm that what is being designed is meeting their expectations, as well as predict buildings performance post completion, moving forward to construction stage, where Digital technology can help massively to avoid clashes and accordingly abortive works, as well as enabling contractors to have tighter control over construction resources which in return pays off in terms of higher productivity and safer work environment, ending by operation stage, where the concept of Smart Building is dominating the future of construction industry, through various setup of data collection sensors and analysis schemes to enrich the end users experiences. However major challenges towards wide applications were also identified such as the readiness of the supply chain, copy rights protection, and recovery method of application Capex.”

Sherief Elabd, Director of Business Development, Oracle:

“Digital transformation is shaping the worksite of tomorrow as internet of things (IoT), 5G, drones, AI, modeling, autonomous vehicles—and whatever comes next—enable better and smarter ways of working, via the cloud. We are witnessing an increasing demand in GCC for exploring the worksite of tomorrow, today. Through our Oracle Construction and Engineering Innovation Lab, we provide a simulated worksite demonstrating the transformative power of above mentioned and other developing technologies. Technology is driving rapid change across the project and asset lifecycle. The Innovation Lab helps organizations experiment, learn, and stay on the leading edge”

Alan Wragg, Commercial Manager, Intermass:

“Developers of new technologies need to take the inspiration and drill down into the construction process to develop sub-divisional benefits for new technologies, which are required to be integrated with existing industry technologies. The Construction business is a very competitive environment, and competition can be extremely fierce, businesses need to get a competitive advantage and the technologies we use and deploy are critical to each business.”


Topic 3: Can a good design solve all the problems?

Picture from Left to Right: David Manfredi Vice President Sector Lead Design and Consultancy Services, Parsons, Riccardo Robustini, Founder and Director of UNICA Architects, Andrea Sensoli Architect & Founder AZS Architetti and SUPERFUTUREDESIGN*, Melani Sabhaney, Partner and Director Design, Interspace, Sanmita Patel Architect & Senior Designer AAID, Alastair Mitchell, MEP Director, Ithra Dubai

Are we putting too much pressure on designers and architects to change the world we live in? Be it sustainable buildings, biophilia, clean air, open spaces, smart cities, and climate crises as well. Let’s find out from the experts on what is possible and what’s not to get a reality check.

Riccardo Robustini, Founder and Director of UNICA Architects:

The human history could be written throughout the history of design. The human evolution has been determined by new discoveries and new inventions that allowed us to progress. Any intent of creation is the fruit of our creativity. Design is like a matrix, it’s everywhere, in any object we see, touch use and consume. This is exciting and in the same way magical and helps us to understand the importance and the power of good design. Creation was always an act of education. In the middle age churches were used as the book of the society and the importance of the medium (the church, let’s say the “shape”) was relevant as much as the content (the religious significance). Nowadays we underestimate the importance of good design, which has a direct impact on human education. In-fact, what we see and use daily determine our level of creativity, happiness or frustration and we should all fight together for a better design. We should all stand together for a better world”

Andrea Sensoli, Architect & Founder, AZS Architetti and SUPERFUTUREDESIGN*:

“There is no good design without sustainability. Sustainability nowadays is a technical branch of design, with scores and procedures but in the basic principles of sustainability, we’re born even before architecture was recognised as a practice. Sustainability is the reason why they build in wood in northern Europe, in bricks in the Mediterranean region and mud & straw in the desert areas. Of course, a distinction is needed after the industrial revolution, as we have started organising in megacities, which makes sustainability a very complex matter that can be dealt with only through complex technologies, orientation, ventilation, relationship with the ground are no longer enough to solve a problem that is a global scale.”

Sanmita Patel, Architect & Senior Designer, AAID:

“Executing a good design is a complex and layered process, one that requires a collaborative interdisciplinary approach. When various design disciplines work together in translating the client’s requirements to a design that is inclusive in approach and adaptive to change, we get a step closer to shaping a better future. This is a challenging process and as agents of change we need to account for sustainability in a wholistic sense. One that caters to the environment, wellness, culture, societal, historical, technological and economic sustenance. It is about collectively informing the design process by making conscious choice and taking effective decisions that have a positive impact on how designs are inhabited”.


Topic 4: A look into Real Estate and Property Investments in the Middle East and Abroad

Picture from Left to Right: Alan James, General Manager, Samana Developers, Joumana Hosri, CEO of Sacotel, Swapnil Pillai, Associate Researcg Middle East, Savills

Property experts will constantly highlight new markets they deem to be investment hotspots and you may be able to find the right deals in countries where prices have fallen dramatically, but it’s often wiser to buy in more established markets. Our panel of experts will discuss the importance of investing in the right market and the potential growth that investors will gain.

Swapnil Pillai, Associate Research Middle East, Savills:

“The Construction Innovation & Design Forum 2019 was a unique platform to share and discuss innovative and sustainable concepts around the construction and real estate sector while also looking at current real estate dynamics in the city. With a renewed focus on sustainability, the discussion surrounding sustainable practices for greenfield and brownfield real estate projects (as built environment constitutes roughly 40% of all carbon emissions globally) was quite pertinent.”


Alan James, General Manager, Samana Developers:


“Customers are king and never truer than in the current market. Customers are knowledgeable of market trends, pricing, and sustainability and are more attuned to environmental issues and generally want a product that meets their various needs whether as an end user or investor. Supply and demand always an interesting point if the quality of the build, location, payment plan and price is right there is always a demand in any market. Customers are looking to move to newer builds that have better facilities, have sustainable features that not only help the environment yet help reduce the operating costs of the building.”


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