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Koltay Facades works on first Dubai design project

Agnes Koltay says Pharmax Pharmaceuticals building will be striking

Agnes Koltay of Koltay Facades
Agnes Koltay of Koltay Facades
Image of the AED40m Pharmax Pharmaceuticals building
Image of the AED40m Pharmax Pharmaceuticals building

Embarking on its first design project in Dubai, the AED40m ($10.89m) research and production facility for Pharmax Pharmaceuticals, Koltay Facades is ready to deliver something that is “interesting, new and unusual”, says eponymous founder Agnes Koltay.

The facade engineering consultancy firm has been subcontracted by UAE-based architect Tarek Qaddumi to lend its expertise to the project at Dubai Biotechnology and Research Park.

Declining to reveal the value of the contract signed with Qaddumi, Koltay explained the scope of the work.

“It includes expert and independent technical advice on facade materials, facade systems, review of the modulation," she said.

"We define and specify the required performances of the enclosure - solar, thermal, visual, etcetera, - provide preliminary engineering assessment. We give detailing and specification, supporting the architect from schematic stage to tender documents.”

Koltay said the project timeline is on “tight programme” but the firm is “intensively looking at the many different options” for what will be a striking translucent box, breaking the traditional black box mould of pharmaceutical plants.

The 8,360m2 project is expected to be completed over the next two years and will become the new headquarters building for Pharmax.

“Finding the most optimal solution for a cost-efficient facade that performs well in the harsh hot local climate and delivers the targeted aesthetics of a glowing translucent box needs some time,” said Koltay. “The facade is aimed to be something interesting, new, unusual, if the budget allows.”

Four of Koltay’s 10 employees are working on the project.

Koltay said: “Facade engineering is a complex discipline and each project needs at least three different type of skillset: Structural engineering, a performance specialist with good understanding of integrated systems and aesthetics; and someone who is good at technical detailing. Ideally, a duo of engineering and architectural background people supported by contracting background person.”

Koltay Facades was only set up in May last year, and the firm has already worked on 25 projects across the globe. It recently completed full scope design phase consultancy on a number of large projects with Atkins, Norr, Kannfinch among others.

Having lived in the UAE since 2005, Koltay said she had noticed the industry start to pick up in the last few months as it continues to recover from the 2008 global financial crisis.

“The past four years had been very quiet and now I am happy to see life again,” she said. “We have experienced a definite increase of Dubai located Request for Proposals in the past three months. There are well known UAE-based and international architects involved in these projects or bidding for them, and we have high hopes for appointments in the near future.”

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