Posts tagged with "UAE":

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Machado Silvetti’s camouflaged desert fort addition

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How can you create an architecture that hides in plain sight? This was the task of architects at Boston-based Machado Silvetti who recently completed an adaptive reuse and addition to a historic fort and grounds within the city of Al Ain, about 100 miles south of Dubai on the border between United Arab Emirates and Oman. The project provides an exhibition facility that will help to preserve, and provide access to, collections relating to Gulf history.
  • Facade Manufacturer Josef Gartner GmbH
  • Architects Machado Silvetti
  • Facade Installer Josef Gartner GmbH
  • Facade Consultants Adams Kara Taylor Facade (facade consultant); Simpson Gumpertz and Heger; Atelier Ten (MEP)
  • Location Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • Date of Completion phase 1: 2011; phase 2: ongoing
  • System Structurally glazed double wall
  • Products Somfy Systems (vertical blinds); Luxar (glazing)
The architects said the addition is clad entirely in glass, with a floor plate that hovers slightly above the desert sands to offer unobstructed views of the landscape while lightly bearing on the land. “When you are inside the fort, what you get is a square cut out of the sky,” said Jorge Silvetti, principal at Machado Silvetti in an interview published on the firm’s website. “It has this emptiness which is so moving and beautiful. The idea was that whatever we put there [within the fort] should interfere in the least possible way with this emptiness even as we knew we had to locate a building in some of this open space.” This realization led to a design concept of “camouflaging” new program—through the use of minimal form, materiality, and detailing—to minimize the physical and visual impact. To achieve this effect, Silvetti said careful attention was paid to the detailing of elements like a ramping entry sequence. A thin slab pierced with lighting and bracketed by handrail posts set outboard of the walking surface establishes a visual effect of “floating” over the site. This was also a response, in part, to a requirement that the addition should respect the archaeology of the historic site. “We could not dig beyond about twenty centimeters into the earth, so really, there are almost no foundations!” Glass construction in a harsh desert climate, where temperatures regularly exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, led to numerous technical challenges for the design team. The architects sited the building along the Fort’s south wall which provided shade for most of the day, with the exception of some morning sun. Working with Atelier Ten, Machado Silvetti studied the building’s responsiveness to the environment through digital modeling and analysis, identifying areas of the facade exposed to a significant amount of solar radiation. These areas were managed with a combination of double-glazing, low-e coatings, and sensored interstitial blinds within the cavity, to filter UV light and infrared radiation. The double-glazed facade is mechanically ventilated through a clever detail that introduces air underneath the floor. The air is passively cooled under the slab prior to circulating throughout the cavity of the double skin wall. Automated blinds, installed within the cavity, provide an additional layer of solar protection. In addition to the double glazed facade, glass is employed nearly everywhere that can be seen—in the guardrails, floors, and ceilings. “Even if it's not physically true, glass gives you the feeling of coolness, of cold; glass is a cold material. It is the opposite of a warm material... the opposite of wood, certainly the opposite of mud,” said Silvetti. “And for once, the coldness of a space was something that could be understood as good—psychologically.”
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Santiago Calatrava breaks ground on world’s tallest tower

This week in Dubai, UAE officials and architects from Santiago Calatrava's firm broke ground on what will be the world's tallest skyscraper. The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour will rise 3,045 feet skyward when it is completed in 2020, at a cost of around $1 billion. “The design and architectural features of The Tower demand unique engineering approaches that are currently being implemented on site," said Santiago Calatrava, in a statement. "Extensive studies were undertaken in preparation for the groundbreaking, and the learning that we have gained from the experience will add to the knowledge base of mankind.” Departing zero percent from the bells-and-whistles approach so common to UAE mega-projects, the tower combines traditional Islamic architecture motifs with Calatrava's signature white fish bones. Although renderings can deceive, the tower looks like Erte's Venere In Pelliccia traded her dress for one from David's Bridal, taffeta train and all. The fly-over animation below takes viewers up, through, and around the tower: Flashy amenities are key to this tower's appeal: Its pointy tip is devoted to something called the Pinnacle Room, a panorama viewing area that features VIP "garden decks," or observation platforms. These and other decks rotate outward, providing additional viewing points. In some ways, Calatrava's design recognizes the challenges of building densely in the desert: Water collected from the cloudbuster's cooling system will be recycled to clean the facade, while strategically placed flora will shield the building from the harsh rays of the sun.  As a downtown anchor, the tower's main plaza will offer high-end retail (is there even another kind of retail in a project this size?), education facilities, a museum, and an auditorium.
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Dystopia or dream? Dubai wants to build a domed “mall of the world” as Earth’s first climate-controlled city

Dubai's insatiable thirst for world firsts and records appears unquenched, as the city sets its eyes on yet another landmark title. Already home to the world's tallest building and with plans in the pipeline for the first fully rotational skyscraper, developer Dubai Holdings has unveiled plans for what would be the world's first climate-controlled city, something they call "The Mall of the World." Although it may not be quite on the scale of Buckminster Fuller's plan to encapsulate Manhattan, Dubai is giving the late American architect a run for his money. The Mall of the World, if built, will be a staggering nine times larger than The Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. The 4.3-mile-long shopping mall would be encapsulated by a retractable dome that would be capable of offering an air-conditioned environment to the inhabitant shoppers who want to escape the city's searing desert heat. According to the developer, the space will be have almost 300 buildings with an annual capacity of up to 180 million visitors. By comparison, The Mall of America, built in 1992, offers a 5.4 million square feet of  floor space (plus an additional 2.5 million in a separate plaza). Due to be complete by 2020, Dubai Holding COO Morgan Parker has said that the dome "will be critical to the Emirate's economic growth."  Already more than 100 engineers and architects are working on plans that will see the area occupy around 48 million square feet of space when complete. Also included in the scheme will be a vast network of 33 roads as well as walkways, cycle paths, bus routes, and Venetian-style waterways. Aside from copious amounts of shops and restaurants, the dome will also offer:
  • The largest indoor family theme park in the world
  • Wellness district catering to medical tourists in a 3-million-square-foot area
  • Cultural district comprising theatres built around New York’s Broadway, The Celebration Walk, similar to the Ramblas Street in Barcelona and shopping streets based on London’s Oxford Street
  • Dubai’s largest celebration centre accommodating 15,000 revellers
Naturally, the project has its vehement critics, with some labelling the project as a "dystopia waiting to happen." Only time will tell if Dubai's dome is doomed.
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Calatrava clinches international competition for observation tower in Dubai’s Creek Harbour

Santiago Calatrava took the top spot in an international design competition for an observation tower in the Ras Al Khor district of Dubai, commonly known as Creek Harbour. Awarding the prize was Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The project has been hailed as an "architectural wonder" by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, who also compared it to the Burj Khalifa and the Eiffel Tower. Beating five other firms in the competition, Calatrava's design draws on forms found in traditional Islamic art and architecture, while merging modern and sustainable design paradigms with the aesthetic. The curvature of the towers appears, from the render, to be derived from bézier curves (a form of mathematical parabola) which are comprised from straight lines. These lines, most likely to be steel cables, would be attached to a central core which rise up and punctuates the Dubai skyline. "Combining Islamic architecture with modern design, the tower at Dubai Creek will become a national monument as well as a cultural and tourist destination,” said Mohamed Ali Al Alabbar, president of Emaar Properties. The same developer was also behind the Burj Khalifa. "In our proposed design, we have united local traditional architecture with that of the 21st century,” said Calatrava in a press release.
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Pictorial> Twenty-one of the best pavilions from Milan Expo 2015

Milano Expo 2015 is rolling along, with 145 countries and a host of international organizations, civil society organizations, and corporations displaying their food-centric traditions and the latest sustainable agriculture and food production techniques. AN reported on the Expo when it opened:

a handful of designs...stand out as attempts to rethink the way we build and how it relates to modern agriculture and sustainable food production for the next century. Most of the pavilions use sustainable materials and construction methods that utilize national building techniques. Inside, exhibitions—often interactive—showcase biodiversity, culture, and food traditions of each nation.

Beyond the focus on food and agriculture, there is also a wealth of eye-catching architecture at the Milan Expo as well. Here is a collection of some of our favorite pavilions from this year's rendition. And be sure to check out our coverage of the Expo here.
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Unveiled> Abu Dhabi’s Second CBD?

Abu Dhabi’s dizzying building boom slowed down somewhat after the 2008 financial collapse dried up the liquidity that inspires big projects. The damage appears not to have been permanent, however, as the UAE capital will forge ahead with a 24-story speculative office tower—part of a new central business district on Al Maryah Island. Al Hilal Bank is the first private development on the island, which is the subject of a masterplan designed to accommodate a citywide population of 3 million by 2030. The city proper is currently home to just over 600,000 people. But Abu Dhabi’s modern history is already a story of explosive growth. “When we first visited,” said Steven Nilles, the Goettsch partner in charge of the firm’s recently opened Abu Dhabi office, “the site was a strip of sand with a desert fox and some barbed wire.” Now it’s a canvas for ambitious urban planning. The 2030 plan includes light rail and a subway system for the new district, which Nilles called “a critical link” between the city’s three main islands. The building, which will be Al Hilal’s flagship, features three cubical masses slightly shifted as they are stacked, allowing for column-free spaces inside. A transparent three-story lobby will look out to the north, engaging the area’s urban character with the help of pedestrian arcades to the east and west. All ongoing projects on the island have parking below grade, where underground service corridors reserve podium-level development for pedestrians. “We’re creating a whole new urban fabric for Abu Dhabi’s central business district,” Nilles said. Goettsch expects to complete the development in late 2013, at which point the clean slate of Al Maryah Island will provide some perspective on the city’s 2030 aspirations.
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Snøhetta’s RAK Gateway Facade Prototype

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A preview of the collaboration behind the entryway to Ras Al Khaimah

Snøhetta’s 656-foot-tall Gateway tower, 93 miles east of Dubai, will mark the entrance to the new planned capital city of the United Arab Emirates, Ras Al Khaimah. Inspired by the surrounding desert and mountain landscape, the project’s undulating form will bring almost 3 million square feet of mixed-use space to the city, which is being master planned by Netherlands-based firm OMA. Snøhetta has designed a prototype of the building’s white-scaled skin in collaboration with Dubai-based lightweight composite manufacturer Premier Composite Technologies (PCT).
  • Fabricator Premier Composite Technologies
  • Architect Snøhetta
  • Location Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
  • Status Prototype
  • Materials Glass fiber and epoxy resin composite, structural foam, glass, ceramic
  • Process CAD-CAM design, CNC mold-making
The RAK tower, which is slated to hold a hotel, will be structurally clad with prefabricated panels attached to its concrete slabs without additional substructure. The design requires panels to be insulated and include the external skin as well as internal doors, windows, and a grid for a plasterboard interior finish. More than 1,000 panels will be needed to realize the design, but Snøhetta and PCT began with one 26-by-13-foot prototype. The design plays to efficiency: Finished panels clad with geometric ceramic shapes will be hoisted onto the tower by crane and connected to each other with a watertight bolted connection to save money and time; a composition of glass fiber and epoxy resin composite surrounding a structural foam core and insulation is designed for decreased solar heat gain. Because the tower rises and twists from lower, horizontal forms at its base, the panels must have a complex bi-axial shape, so using easily moldable composites made sense from a design standpoint as well. PCT uses a 5-axis milling machine to create molds with multiple-axis forms and intricate shapes. Snøhetta worked with PCT’s design engineers to develop the RAK Gateway’s conceptual facade designs, analyzing 3-D images for structural performance. The team then translated CAD files into CAM files to manufacture molds. The components, which are laminated on the CNC-milled molds and oven-cured under a vacuum, have a tolerance of less than 1 millimeter. Holes are also molded into each element, ensuring accurate placement of attachments before the panels ever reach the building. As part of the collaboration, Snøhetta translated the Gateway’s shapes into a design for PCT’s booth at 100% Design London. Watch architect Thomas Fagernes discuss the design below in a video about PCT: Video courtesy

Eavesdrop NY 11

Meier In A Box Pin-Up: Magazine for Architectural Entertainment features Richard Meier in its Summer 2009 issue. Turns out “architectural entertainment” is not an oxymoron after all, at least not at Pin-Up. Meier poses on the cover with the box containing his $1,800 limited-edition lifetime opus from Taschen. Box placement and the architect’s sheepish grin remind us of that infamous Justin Timberlake/ Andy Samberg SNL video skit. You know the one. It’s that musical DIY about how to create an extremely personal boxed gift. Coincidence, or is Pin-Up just living up to its tagline? Buy the issue and tell us what you think. Buy it now. Asymptote’s Buildable Blob Eavesdrop loved the “Build It Bigger” episode on Discovery’s Science Channel featuring the Asymptote-designed Yas Marina Hotel under construction in Abu Dhabi, which aired on June 1. Granted, every project in the UAE is the biggest, best, only, and first, but the Yas Hotel is truly an amazing grid-shell-veiled, buildable blob. Besides the building, the project’s second-most glamorous feature is the Formula One Grand Prix raceway over which the hotel spans with extraordinary finesse. The show revealed the complexity of both design and engineering and the effort required to fast-track it into existence. As the signature component of the $36 billion Yas Marina development, it must open its doors by October, making the raceway a literal reminder of the overall need for speed. Sidebar: Architects typically enjoy all the credit in the press, but Eavesdrop insists on credit where credit’s due. Introducing the engineers: Arup, Dewan, Tilke, Schlaich Bergermann und Partner, Waagner-Biro, Centraal Staal, Red, Taw, and Front, Inc. Shocked About Saadiyat Speaking of speed, the program’s host, Danny Forster, casually mentioned that 50,000 workers are needed to maintain warp-speed construction for the entire region’s multibillion-dollar developments. Now, that head count is big news: An 80-page report issued by the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims “abuse and severe exploitation” of thousands of laborers at projects throughout the UAE, particularly those on Saadiyat Island (cue eye-rolling: Saadiyat is Arabic for “happiness”). HRW sent letters outlining the violations to Jean Nouvel, Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid, Tadao Ando, and other architects who are building island happiness. The recipients issued instant denunciations: We’re shocked! Who could’ve imagined that tens of thousands of migrant workers from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan could be vulnerable to exploitation? Here at Eavesdrop, we’re 100 percent not for it. Send peace and strong labor laws to