STAND-OUT DESIGNS

UAE, Sharjah 2017 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | FOCUS: CONCEPTUAL BUILDING

Sharjah's new real estate niche is part of a new construction trend to combine art, function, innovation, and context into architectural design concepts.

Sharjah is typically known for its affordable real estate compared to neighboring Emirates, but declining rents in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are encroaching on Sharjah's competitive advantage. Despite increased competition as the real estate markets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi settle after a recent boom, Sharjah is developing a niche in conceptual building that combines client-focused functionality, aesthetic, and context in architectural designs. Construction projects across industries, from tourism to waste management, are incorporating concept designs.

FAM Holding, a leader in the construction and contracting industry, pioneered the development of concept smart towers in Sharjah. FAM Holding's third project in Sharjah includes both commercial and residential space with the concept to combine sport and real estate. Sarkwa Tower will have a swimming pool, gym, basketball and tennis courts, and a jogging track on top of the building. In the Al Nahda area of Sharjah, FAM Holding is also developing Sharjah's first smart tower, Smart Tower II. The first smart tower is in Ajman, and the company is also constructing Smart Tower III in Dubai.

Dr. Faisal Ali Mousa, Chairman of FAM Holding, explained to TBY that those with a property in one of its smart towers can control everything—lights, air-conditioning, television, curtains, cameras, water heater, intercom, and more—with a single mobile app. Smart Tower II launched in three months with total sales of around AED200 million (USD54.4 million) and 85% sold, further proving that innovative and high-quality real estate choices are stimulating purchases. The Sharjah government awarded FAM Holding the Best Project in 2016 award for the smart tower.

FAM Holding is also developing Arts Tower with hopes to launch in July 2017. The hotel will display the work of famous Emirati artist Mohammed Al Ustad in the lobby and corridors as well as a gallery and atelier for his work. FAM Holding is planning to partner with the Art College of Sharjah University to bring students to paint and work on the project. FAM Holding's concept designs are diversifying Sharjah's real estate offerings and propelling the sector's development of unique luxury options.

Construction within the tourism industry is also helping Sharjah to stand out and reach its Tourism Vision goal of attracting over 10 million tourists by 2021. Al Noor Island, one of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority's newest tourism and leisure destinations, includes a Butterfly House, displaying both beautiful butterfly inhabitants and brilliant architecture. The external design is inspired by the winged-creatures housed inside, with exterior waves round the building that provide shadow and internal light filtering. This light filtering complements the internal humidity and temperature control mechanisms to create an optimal environment for the butterflies. Al Noor Island combines nature, art, and architecture for a unique visitor experience. Furthermore, construction in the tourism industry continues to fuel development in Sharjah, and officials expect growth to remain strong.

Conceptual construction is adding an aesthetic aspect to the waste management industry, which is not often associated with artistic prowess. In February 2017, British contracting company Carillion Plc confirmed it would build the new, eco-friendly headquarters for Bee'ah, Sharjah's leading waste management company. Carillion will partner with Zaha Hadid Architects, a world-renowned architecture design company founded by the late British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, to create Bee'ah's new headquarters, inspired by the sand dunes of the desert surrounding the building. Fitting with Bee'ah's mission to provide sustainable solutions in resource management and to transform Sharjah into the environmental capital of the world, the building will be operational by the end of 2018 and powered 100% by renewable energy by 2021. The sleek, futuristic design reflects the company's passion for leading environmental change through both aesthetic and function.