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Europe & Middle East Outlook

QAS
construction
architecture
UAE construction

QUALITY ARCHITECTURAL SYSTEMS

Powering Projects from Start to Finish

Thanks to its comprehensive expertise built up across numerous architectural disciplines, QAS is able to cater to bespoke client needs and continues to produce spectacular results 

Writer: Tom Wadlow

Project Manager: Tom Cullum

Not many international companies founded in 2005 can claim to be made up of the same staff who have been with them since day one.

From financial crashes through to the explosion of new technologies and unparalleled levels of global interconnectivity, the past 13 years have seen the makeup of organisations around the world change drastically.

Arrow in on the GCC construction industry and the testing market conditions of recent years, and the likelihood of recording a near zero staff turnover is all the more slim.

Dubai-based Quality Architectural Systems (QAS), however, has achieved this feat.

Formed in 2005 during the construction boom period, Director Damian Pollard and his team saw a market for premium systems, a market which could be tapped into through offering exceptional service and client support.

“The key strength of the business is our staff, who have been with us from the start and remained committed and motivated,” Pollard says. “This gives us experienced and qualified personnel who understand the system requirements and marry this to the architectural requirement of the client. 

“QAS is a small, tightly knit family and recruitment is an unusual event – we have grown organically and will continue to do so, expanding our core facility only through known individuals that we know will fit the team.”

With a stated aim to deliver an optimal contribution to the realisation of first-grade architectural ideas, QAS has emerged as a one-stop-shop solution for clients, able to see a project through from start to finish thanks to its wealth of expertise which has only been added to since 2005.

Pollard continues: “The major gap we identified early was that we relied on structural components given to us by the client or contractor, so we introduced this structural engineering capability and can now provide additional value service. As the structure supports our façade, we are able to combine the elements and provide economical solutions for our clients.

“We prefer to provide solutions rather than try and sell something which doesn’t work for the client – usually they come to us as we’re not trying to pull something ‘off the shelf’, and although we do have such systems our priority is the client’s requirements.”

Hallmarks of quality

Such clients are based in numerous regions around the world, served by QAS’s network of offices and partners.

While the Dubai base looks after the MENA region with a separate area manager based in Saudi Arabia, the firm can also draw on presence in the form of an office in India and partners in Russia, Southeast Asia, Korea, the UK and other European countries.

In seeking new business, QAS is able to utilise an established portfolio that showcases its commitment to quality.

For Pollard, the Muscat International Airport control tower stands out as the Company’s greatest achievement to date.

“I regard this project as the epitome of what QAS can achieve,” says Pollard. “Not one piece of steel or aluminium support had to be modified on site, not a single panel had to be replaced due to incorrect production, and we managed a process which involved components from Holland, South Africa, and locally fabricated elements in the UAE.

“These were all produced and shipped to Oman to be installed by a third party, whom we provided an ‘IKEA’ type instruction manual and who never once had to recourse to us for further guidance.”

Project focus: Muscat International Airport

Pollard explains how this project in the Omani capital drew on all of QAS’s experience and expertise:

“The architect required an enamel finished steel panel. The contractor had attempted to provide a four-millimetre bond system as the proposed steel structure was inadequate to take the load of the enamel panel, and after many months of wrangling came to QAS to provide the solution.

“QAS created a new panel by taking the enamel outer skin from our partner in South Africa, VITREX International. We then grafted this skin onto our Dutch sister company’s (AFS International) Q-Premium honeycomb system, to reduce the weight of the system, on the structure.

“We then completely re-designed the secondary and structural support system, everything from the concrete core to the external face of the cladding, multiple extrusions and steel – the enamel panel was curved and also in some situations twisted to create the impression of a flower.

“The enamel was also an issue as the usual enamel panel has a gloss level in excess of 80 percent, which would blind pilots landing at the airport. So, we spent three months in design and development with VITREX to get the appearance desired by the architect with gloss level below 30 percent to ensure pilot safety.”

Project pride

Dubai Creek provides the backdrop for what Pollard describes as his personal favourite project.

Currently under final handover, the Jameel Arts Centre is exclusively the product of AFS International’s Q-Premium system, designed in Dubai by QAS and supplemented with daily on-site support to ensure its faultless installation.

The building is designed as a series of boxes of varying dimensions that are bound together by a one-storey-high colonnade, offering a mix of smaller intimate exhibiting spaces and larger galleries.

“This demonstrates what can be achieved by proactive hands on support with the façade installer, main contractor, architect, client and supplier together,” adds Pollard. “The quality of the installation speaks for itself.”

Pollard also points to the project’s full compliance with UAE fire safety code, an accreditation which involved close collaboration with local partner Hamdan Al Muheiribi and Dubai Civil Defence.

Slated to open in winter 2018, the 10,000 square metre, three-storey Jameel Arts Centre will be one of the first contemporary art institutions in the city, providing a vibrant platform for artists and creatives to exchange ideas and showcase work to the community.

Looking ahead

The QAS project pipeline also looks promising when peering into the future, with Pollard highlighting multiple developments which the firm is set to play a leading part in executing.

“We are very excited about a new partnership with US global façade manufacturer CENTRIA International, whom we now represent in the MENA region and the sub-continent,” he reveals.

“Partnering with such a huge player gives us the strength and flexibility to service a much wider scope of works. We are looking at over 50 projects with CENTRIA and hope we will secure a significant proportion of this work.”

QAS further secured a contract on the Bayt al Fan project in Jeddah, another arts centre, this time spanning 7,500 square metres. Once again this will draw on the Company’s proven partnership with AFS International, the two working in conjunction to create a purpose-fit cladding solution for the building.

Pollard also wants QAS to continue its geographical expansion, identifying the African continent as a region primed for development.

He concludes: “In three to five years’ time I would like to see the Company with permanent offices in the KSA and East Africa in addition to the Dubai Facility, and our presence expanded significantly into East Asia.”