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The Design Studio System

NOA’s studio is identified by the Design Director who leads the design efforts of all the projects within the studio. NOA approaches every project on a team basis. The projects are run by a leadership triumvirate comprising of a Project Manager, Technical Coordinator and Senior Designer. (See figure below).

The Project Manager handles all the contractual aspects of a project and the Technical Coordinator oversees all technical drafting and 3-dimensional modelling, document production and the technical aspects of a project. The Senior Designer works with the Design Director to establish a design concept for the project and directs the work of the architectural design project team during the design phases.

Design Process

We believe the design process is not a linear one but a fluid cyclical process where we experiment and test multiple scenarios and forms to reach the most optimum solution that best responds to the site, client aspirations and achieves design excellence.

Our process begins with the careful analysis of the design problem through thorough site analysis, study of the historical and urban context and planning regulations. That site analysis then informs the early massing studies we carry out to size up the quantum of development and its suitability on the site.

From the outset, we study key design drivers including orientation towards key views, sun exposure and wind. And in residential schemes we study the stacking of residential units to optimize the site and the surrounding views and maximise their commercial value.

After exploring several massing options, we settle on the option that satisfies the brief, its desired functions, target development areas – and stacking if applicable. We then start to apply the architecture and evolve the shape and detail of the building.

/Design Technology

NOA provides architectural services using technologically superior processes, delivering greater value and efficiency for clients and an enhanced design and construction process. 

NOA’s technology focus is twofold; Concept Design Tools & Design Delivery Tools; VR (Virtual Reality), Augmented Reality (AR) or Mixed Reality (MR) tools are very useful in developing design concepts in an interactive and iterative way that would involve our clients early on in the design process to make key design decisions and involve our clients in the decision-making process. We also use these tools further down the line to inspect the detailed design as it evolves and enquire the built results reflects the client’s intentions and aspirations. 


Parametric tools such as Dynamo and Grasshopper will be used for to help create concept designs that require geometric complexity and also rationalize building geometry once the design intent is fixed.


For Design Delivery, BIM will be at the heart of this strategy and will be used for efficient design delivery. The use of Revit in combination with various productivity plugins and Navisworks will be the main design documentation and coordination platform.


NOA’s core BIM platform is Autodesk Revit. Other drafting and modelling platforms such as AutoCAD, Rhinoceros and SketchUp compliment the design process and allow us to communicate ideas and details fluently with external consultants and stakeholders.


NOA has been expanding the use of parametric software at the studio level as opposed to specialised external consultants. We believe that a catalyst for good architecture is the development of computation and parametric processes that allow us to explore numerous design solutions with our clients. The utilisation of these tools is not limited to experimental form-finding design approaches. Analytical data is extracted early in the project’s life using simulation and analysis programmes. Data, such as programmatic, environmental and contextual factors combined with design criteria can directly influence the building’s shape. The result is the ability to quickly shape buildings according to a wide array of design and performance criteria.


Sustainability is no longer a nice-to-have or an add-on. Today most governments demand  green building accreditation to meet energy efficiency targets and reduce buildings carbon footprint.


Sustainability and environmentally conscious design are an integral part of our design process whether or not our clients seek green building accreditations such as LEED and Estidama. Furthermore, we offer our clients the option to seek Well Building Standard accreditation, which is a metric focused on user wellbeing that is gaining more traction and popularity worldwide as it promotes high health standards inside buildings and increased productivity and comfort for its occupants.


At the Building Scale, we use wind, daylight, solar and thermal analyses throughout the process to inform our work, helping us to investigate design alternatives and improve building performance. Each building’s shape and specific design of its envelope are derived from this interaction and interrogation with climatic data. The choice of materials, mechanical systems, electrical systems, building controls and lighting are also thoroughly investigated and optimised to reduce energy consumption. In the end, we aim to accomplish high levels of environmental performance paired with the minimum possible environmental impact. In many cases, our integrated design process leads to projects often exceeding local requirements.


As part of our design process, we adopt two environmental design strategies; passive and active, to reduce a building’s carbon footprint and energy needs.

Passive strategies are adopted in the initial concept stage in order to have an enduring impact on reducing the building’s carbon footprint and its energy loads. Its impact is not perceived directly, hence it’s called passive. Passive strategies include optimizing the building’s massing, orientation, façade design, materials, shading devices and solid to glazed ratios among other things. It’s a one-off capital investment that has an enduring positive impact in reducing solar heat gain, associated cooling and energy loads, increasing thermal comfort in and around the building and providing shading in public spaces.


Active strategies are technologies that are included in the building services and incur an additional capital investment as well as some operational maintenance costs, which are offset over the medium and long term of the building’s life. These include grey water recycling, water flow reducing taps and fixtures, sensors that manage lighting consumption based on occupancy, temperature and humidity sensors that manage air conditioning supply and ventilation based outdoor temperature, occupancy and ventilation requirements. Computer systems that manage the use of elevators in the most efficient way to minimize the number of elevator rides and escalator sensors that control operation only when required. Furthermore, we now have access to power generation onsite using photovoltaic panels and wind turbines installed within the building to generate part of the building’s energy requirements. In some parts of the world, geothermal energy is a technology used to help reduce a building’s cooling or heating loads or even produce energy onsite.

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