Design duo Matthias Hollwich and Marc Kushner are no strangers to Inhabitat readers, and they just made their first major splash in Abu Dhabi with Wendy Abroad. That funky spiky blue pavilion that drenched New Yorkers and scrubbed pollutants from the air during the 2012 summer heat so impressed the Sheikha Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation that they invited HWKN to bring her to the capital of the United Arab Emirates as part of the state's mission to enhance environmental awareness among its residents. Hollwich and Kushner gave us and other journalists sponsored by Masdar a personal tour of the installation, and this is what we saw.
Abu Dhabi is one of the world’s biggest oil exporters and also has one of the highest per capita emissions rates. But the Emirate’s leadership is also keenly concerned to reduce their energy consumption in order to maintain their export security for as long as possible, slash their carbon footprint and to ensure that up to 7% of their total energy mix will be comprised of renewable sources by 2020. Trouble is, Emiratis have grown accustomed to free energy and consequently lack a strong conservation ethos.
The state is trying hard to reverse this conundrum by conducting a variety of educational programs aimed at growing awareness. And out-of-the-box art and architecture have the unique capability of getting people excited about renewable energy. Cue HWKN and Wendy abroad. An upgraded version of the original design that won MoMA’s PS1 Young Architects Program last year, the solar-powered pavilion is making a big splash along the corniche. Equipped with fans and misters that give the interior an industrial disco aesthetic, the recyclable air purifier also comes with informational boards that explain what she can do.
Coated with a titania nanoparticle spray that interacts with the sun to purify the air, essentially removing the emissions generated by 260 vehicles at a time, Wendy also creates a cooling environment and is constructed almost entirely with locally-sourced materials. While we were there, a cluster of local women dressed in abayas appeared transfixed by the strange structure designed by Hollwich and Kushner to generate an emotional response. Wendy will be around until February 6th, after which it’s uncertain where she will head next. In the meantime, keep an eye on HWKN. They have a bevy of big projects coming up, including the new wooden pavilion for the Fire Island in New York.
All images by Tafline Laylin for Inhabitat