Contemporary Buildings In United Arab Emirates Construction Essay

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Despite its small size and population UAE has become more known worldwide over the last two decades, owing in large part to its abundance of oil reserves and the role it consequently has to play in world's energy market. The rapid economic development of UAE has been stimulating an exceptional construction boom and infrastructure development in all corners of the country that attracted investors from around the world. Most of the investments are directed in developing commercial spaces. As a result of the rapid development, UAE has commercial buildings of different shapes and sizes equipped with high technology. More projects are under construction or design stage.

This research is carried out with an international perspective to review whether these contemporary buildings in UAE are meeting the expectations of the occupants. Most of the occupants considered the 'newness' and appearance of the building have improved but the new building fail to achieve the required comfort level in indoor work environments. Employers are impressed by strong 'feel good' factor generated by awarded winning iconic designs. But how much this factor contribute to the comfort and well being of the employees will be discussed in this study.

1.2. Aim & Objectives

The aim & objectives of this research were set as follows:

To identify the factors affecting occupant satisfaction in a work environment.

To recognize the importance of a workplace and being comfort at work.

To understand the significance of Office layouts, Workstation designs and Workplace Ergonomics in an office environment.

To identify the factors affecting occupant satisfaction focusing on Indoor Environment Quality: thermal comfort, air quality, lighting, luminous and visual environment in modern office buildings in the UAE.

1.3 Hypothesis

Occupant satisfaction in new work environments in the UAE doesn't meet the organizations' productivity requirements.

1.4 Research Methodology Outline

Stage 1: Literature Review

A comprehensive review of the relevant literature including journals, research articles, books and websites in order to;

Understand the international perspective on occupant satisfaction in modern work environments in UK & Australia.

Provide Overview on construction boom and contemporary building designs in UAE.

Study the work environment, types of office & contemporary office designs and workplace ergonomics.

Provide insight to the factors affecting the workplace, sick building syndromes (SBS) and indoor environment quality (IEQ) parameters.

To measure the occupant satisfaction and productivity in modern buildings with respect to the following environmental categories - office layout, office furnishings, office ergonomics, thermal comfort, air quality, lighting, acoustics, cleaning, maintenance and over all satisfaction with workspace.

Identify and study the factors affecting the quality of indoor office environment.

Stage 2: Data collection

The literature review will be followed by data collection, which will take the form of

Participant observation

Semi Structured Interviews with facilities managers and office managers of the modern facilities.

Unstructured Interview with the occupants in order to understand their needs and feedback on current system.

Online survey through standard questionnaires.

Case Study

Stage 4: Evaluation of data

Qualitative research method will evaluate all the data and information from different stages. The content analysis techniques will be used for analysis of the results of semi structured & unstructured interviews and case studies. The scrutiny of questionnaires and online surveys are based on statistical analysis.

Stage 5: Writing Up

This stage involves the scripting of dissertation based on literature review, research methodology, data analysis and conclusion & recommendations.

1.5 Dissertation Structure

The dissertation compromises the following chapters.

Chapter 1: Introduction

This chapter provides an over view to the reader on rationale, aim and objectives of the research. Provides the structure of the research carried out.

Chapter 2: Contemporary Buildings and Occupant Satisfaction

This chapter defines occupant satisfaction and presents an over view on international studies on occupant satisfaction in modern buildings in UK & Australia. This unit describes the recent construction boom and available modern building designs in the region.

Chapter 3: Work Environment, Types of Office & Contemporary Design

This chapter reveals the importance of work environment and gives an over view on different types of office designs and its applications.

Chapter 4: Workplace Productivity

Before analysing the satisfaction level of the occupants we need to understand the factors related to workplace. This chapter provides and insight to the factors affecting the workplace, sick building syndromes (SBS) and indoor environment quality (IEQ) parameters.

Chapter 5: Research Design & Methodology

This chapter analyses different research methods in order to identify the most appropriate method to measure the workplace occupant satisfaction level. Chapter describes the research methodology implemented and method of data collection.

Chapter 6: Data and Results

In this chapter the results will be presented and interpreted by using appropriate analysis method.

Chapter 7: Conclusions and Recommendations

This chapter reveals the conclusion of the research and further recommendation. Recommendation for further research will be highlighted.

Chapter 2: Contemporary Buildings and Occupant Satisfaction

2.1 Introduction

This chapter defines occupant satisfaction and presents an over view on international studies on occupant satisfaction in modern buildings in UK & Australia. This unit describes the recent construction boom and available modern building designs in the UAE.

2.1 Occupant Satisfaction

Occupant satisfaction is the measure of how happy the occupants of a workplace are with their working environment. Studies show that there is a relation between occupant satisfaction and productivity (Iaffaldano and Muchinsky, 1985; McGee and Cavender, 1984). The occupant satisfaction affects the workplace productivity, employee absenteeism and retention. A comfortable and healthy workplace yields more occupant satisfaction and increased productivity. Thus occupant satisfaction can be measured in terms of occupant 'comfort' and 'well-being'.

By minimizing the main causes of discomfort, ill health and productivity the occupant can be more satisfied. When a building and its systems are too complicated it perhaps becomes the greatest enemy of occupant satisfaction. Post-occupant evaluation surveys (POE) measures the overall building performance taking into consideration the occupant satisfaction and productivity. With the rise of the facilities management this form of evaluation came to prominence demanding more information on the buildings they manage and office environment survey development.

POE is done by evaluating the occupants of the building. This is done by walkthrough interviews in which the participants can comment on the facility they wish to. These comments are documented and photographs of the building features are taken. Discussion forums, observational studies questionnaires and expert scans are also included.

2.2 Comfort & Well-being at Work

Comfort is defined as the user's experiences in the building (Vischer, 2005). It is the different ways in which humans in various climates and cultures have controlled, adopted and managed their environment to ensure well-being. Discomfort of a particular situation can cause physical/mental strain and is major cause of illness. The comfort in an office environment integrates the psychological, physical and functional aspects of comfort. The psychological comfort depends on owning, controlling and having responsibility for territory. Deprivation of territory leads to stress, frustration, low morale and aggression. The physical comfort is provided through codes, standards and norms for building safety and health: enough light, air, not too hot or cold and safe noise levels. It also includes building convenience in terms of transportation access, parking, elevator service, clean and functioning toilets and effective maintenance and repair services. The functional comfort links the physical qualities of the environment with the requirements of user's tasks. Right lighting for the task being performed, clean air free of contaminants, special comfort, sense of privacy & thermal comfort all come under the functional aspect of comfort.

2.3 International Perspectives

The responsibility of an organization is to provide a healthy and productive workplace. According to the study conducted by Graham Capper, John Holmes and Guy Brown (RICS COBRA, 2008) and Warren L. Paul and Peter A. Taylor (ScienceDirect, 2007) on contemporary and conventional buildings in UK and Australia found no evidence showing that contemporary buildings are more comfortable than the conventional ones. The occupants rated their workplace in terms of following key aspects.

Lighting

Temperature

Ventilation

Acoustics

Serenity

Aesthetics

Humidity and Overall satisfaction

These aspects were not perceived differently.

In productivity, comfort is an important factor while well-being is a 'prime requisite' (Clement-Croome & Baizhan, 2000). According to Clement and Baizhan, productivity depends on:

"Good concentration, technical competence, effective organization and management, a responsive environment and a good sense of well-being."

Comfort and productivity also depends on personal environmental control in the occupants' hands. (CABE BCO, 2005). According to Wyon (1998) 80% of the occupants can be satisfied with good indoor environment and the remaining 20% with individual control.

The use of workplace to drive business change is one of the aspects of modernization which can be achieved through:

Efficiency - driving down occupancy costs and making economic use of real estate;

Effectiveness - improving output and quality by using space to support the way occupants work;

Expression - communicating messages to influence the way the inhabitants and those who visit the building think about the organization (BCO, 2005).

The study conducted by Graham Capper, John Holmes and Guy Brown (RICS COBRA, 2008) examines the occupants in a conventional and newly completed office in North East of England. The participants moved from their old office to the new office in an adjacent site. The occupants were provided with questionnaire, which allowed them to indicate their views.

The old building was constructed with concrete frame and precast concrete cladding. The offices were open-plan with the small departments having cellular offices and had 14 storey. Each floor housed 50 staff and had social facilities in each floor. These were naturally ventilated. The perimeter radiators provided heating to the building and there were thermostatic valves fitted on the radiators. Luminaries provided lighting to all work areas with lamps to provide task lighting. The meeting and interview rooms had high level of acoustic performance.

The new building was constructed with double glazed steel frame windows and insulated with cladding panels and was divided into 8 and 5 storey. The offices were mostly open plan with only the senior staff having cellular offices. Central boiler and radiators provided heating to the building and chilled beams cooling. Floor diffusers provided mechanical ventilation. The internal environment was automatically controlled by BMS.

The study showed that the new office building failed to address the health and well-being issues of the occupants;

Though there were openable windows in practice these were locked shut.

In the old office building the occupant had control over their environment compared to the new office having little or no control over their working condition. As a result the occupants in the new offices felt either too cold or too hot.

Working at high density gave them less freedom in the new workplace and since it was mostly open-plan there was less privacy and more noise and distraction.

The new office had 100 people in a large open plan than only a few staff in well lit and well ventilated old offices.

Thus it was seen in the study that the contemporary building failed to meet the requirements of occupants and provided a poor working environment. Only 15% of the occupants felt that their productivity had increased.

Based on the above research works carried out in UK and Australia this study evaluates the occupant satisfaction level in modern buildings of United Arab Emirates.

2.4 Construction Boom and Modern Buildings in UAE

In last two decades the United Arab Emirates is witnessing an exceptional growth in its construction sector. The vision of leaders of the nation is the foundation for this growth. UAE has gained attention of the world through its booming economy and ambitious architecture projects. With a focus on business and tourism, the country is ramping up construction on an unprecedented level.

The picture shows Sheikh Zayed Road express highway connecting the major cities Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Massive development happened along the highway in last two decades. Projects under construction in the UAE are estimated to exceed Dh 1.83 trillion registering a growth rate of 83.4 percent over 2006. UAE scoops 39.4 percent of the projects in the whole GCC region. Some of the contemporary commercial buildings that are being proposed and constructed in UAE are the following;

2.5 Work Culture in UAE

There are many employment laws by the UAE government to protect the workers from exploitation. Most of the companies in UAE practice the afternoon siesta, where the businesses close down and open in the evening. But now there is a move from this split shift to the straight or continuous shift as this saves time on traveling and the procedures for closing and opening the business, creates more worker efficiency, availability of business throughout the day and enables workers to finish work by evening time.

2.6 Conclusion

The change in economy has influenced the built environment in the UAE. Advanced construction technology, modern building materials, imported expertise and economic wealth all contributed to the rapid change in architecture. Above all the reincarnation of a desert land to one of the leading destinations in the world shows the vision and leadership qualities of the rulers of the country. We have contemporary and futuristic designs at construction and design stages, but how far these modern designs are able to provide a satisfied work environment for the occupants. The following chapters will discuss and criticize these

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