Al Bahr Towers

Construction year: 2013
Address: Shakhbout Bin Sultan St | ABU DHABI | United Arab Emirates
Latitude/Longitude: 24.45572, 54.40112

Situated in Abu Dhabi, The Al Bahr Towers are a benchmark for a highly considered approach in the built environment. The towers proudly stand at the vanguard of this new orientation by respecting the historical, cultural, and environmental nature of the region whilst providing a unique state of the art design reflecting the aspirations and vision of Abu Dhabi.

The client, The Abu Dhabi Investment Council, is responsible for assisting the government in achieving continuous financial success and wealth protection, and actively supporting sustainable growth for the regional economy. The Council’s new headquarters is a unique opportunity to create a landmark structure that embodies these principles and reflects the prominence of this organisation.

The design is based on the concept of adaptive flowers and the “mashrabiya” – a wooden lattice shading screen, which are traditionally used to achieve privacy whilst reducing glare and solar gain. The geometry of the shading screen folds and unfolds in response to the movement of the sun, reducing solar gain by up to 50%, whilst simultaneously improving admission of natural diffused light into the towers and improving visibility. The original folding concept for the dynamic mashrabiya unit was initially explained through a simple origami model that revealed how the triangular unit would function.

Al Bahr Towers fuse the principles of bio-inspiration, regional architecture, and performance oriented technology with an underlying performance criteria, grid-guide, and geometric composition that generates a highly efficient integrated system. Traditionally, circles and orbits are used to reflect the concept of unification and unity evident in nature. The plan of the towers is based on six tangential arcs, taken from three intersecting circles – a pattern which forms the basis of nearly all geometric configurations known to the region.

The 2,098 dynamic units avoid the need for heavily treated glass, thereby reducing the need for significant artificial lighting and mechanical air conditioning. Therefore, the dynamic façade improves visibility and user comfort while decreasing energy usage and plant size thus providing an efficient system that lends itself to a more sustainable solution.

A bespoke application was developed using Javascript and advanced parametric technologies to simulate the movement of the façade in response to the sun’s path. The performance criteria and geometry build-up of the system design were conveyed using a unique project specific, Geometry Construction & Performance Manual. This freed the design-to-construction process from locking it down to certain platforms and computer technologies and offered a universal data exchange language, enabling all parties to communicate more effectively.

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