Inhabitat was granted an exclusive opportunity to photograph the award-winning Al Bahr Towers in Abu Dhabi, which are cooled with the world's largest computerized façade. Aedas Architects have received all kinds of accolades for their unique design - including the 'Best Overall Project in the Middle East’ and the ‘Commercial Project of the Year' at the Middle East Architect Awards 2013. From a distance the twin towers appear to be wrapped in a sheath, but closer inspection reveals an incredible system of honeycomb structures attached to the fully glazed buildings that open and close in response to the sun's movement.
Abu Dhabi is hot, very hot, especially in the summer, making the temptation to keep the air-conditioning on full blast very hard to resist. But air-conditioning is not only expensive, but energy intensive, and Abu Dhabi is hot to cut down its domestic fossil fuel use. Aedas Architects was commissioned to design two 29 storey towers adjacent to each other – one for the Abu Dhabi Investment Council and one for Al Hilal Bank. Albeit separate towers, they share an expansive central lobby that is pumped full of daylight thanks to large, strategically-placed windows.
The first in the Gulf region to be awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver rating, the towers enjoy 50 per cent less solar gain than a comparable skyscraper – with zero compromises in natural lighting. At the time that this culturally-sensitive structure was unveiled, it was the first to fully explore the advantages of external shading to reduce energy loads. Subsequent projects, such as the Siemens Headquarters at Masdar City, require less material to achieve a similar affect, but Aedas was definitely ahead of their time with their progressive engineering.
In addition to the mashrabiya screen, which folds at night and gives the project great cultural relevance, we loved the various green spaces. Employees gathered under the shade of a gazebo on a wide lawn in front of the building, which faces a rowdy highway, and conservative water features and all kinds of plants in a courtyard ensure a most pleasant microclimate. We even heard birds tweeting. And even more drought resistant plants and flowers are currently being cultivated on the other side of the parking area to provide even further green space. Really, it is one of the most relaxing corporate environments we have experienced. If you haven’t already, flip through our gallery of photographs for an exclusive look at this fascinating project.
Photos ©Tafline Laylin for Inhabitat