Plans were unveiled this week for the new Federal National Council's Parliament Building in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. They reveal not only a beautiful design centered around a large white dome, but they also rely on passive solar design and inspiration from indigenous desert architecture to achieve an energy efficient masterplan. LA-based Ehrlich Architects beat out some heavy hitting architecture firms to win the grand prize to design the striking complex, which marries modernity and tradition.
Ehrlich Architects came in ahead of Foster + Partners, Massimiliano Fuksas Architects, and Zaha Hadid Architects in Phase 2 of the design competition to win the FNC Parliament project. The stunning design is centered around a 100-meter dome structure with a “flower-of-the-desert” design to cover the main assembly building constructed from white marble. Light will filter through the screen of the dome onto the building and courtyard below creating a micro-climate and increasing energy efficiency of the building. FNC’s new parliament complex is located right on the water and at night, the assembly hall will glow dramatically at night.
Ehrlich’s design will “will balance Islamic Heritage with U.A.E.’s global contemporary aspirations, where modernity and tradition are in harmonious balance,” said Design Principal, Steven Ehrlich, FAIA, RIBA. Sustainability and energy efficiency are at the core of the design and the project is expected to achieve a 5 Pearl Rating in the Estidama Initiative, a sustainable design program led by the emirate of Abu Dhabi (estidama means sustainability in Arabic).
Solar passive design is the leading strategy to minimize heat gain and cooling loads for the complex. Thick, light-colored walls are used as thermal mass to collect heat during the day and release it back at night. Mashrabiya panels, inspired by traditional Arabic architecture, will shade windows, while the large concrete and metal screened dome will reduce direct sunlight onto the main building and will cast Arabic inspired shadows on the surface. Daylighting via lightwells, skylights and recessed windows will minimize the use of artificial lighting throughout the day.
Ehrlich Architects is joined on the project by U.A.E.-based architecture firm Godwin Austen Johnson [GAJ] and landscape architecture firm ValleyCrest Design Group. FNC’s new complex will be located on Abu Dhabi Corniche, one of the grand processional boulevards in the country’s capital, where important civic events and celebrations take place. The team will also incorporate energy modeling and other intelligent solutions to create a sustainable project.
WHY THIS MATTERS:
Why expend energy heating or cooling a building, when smart design elements can do it for you? That’s exactly what passive design, the strategy that this new building uses, is all about. The walls collect heat during the day to release at night when it’s needed and decorative panels do double duty do shade areas so they don’t need electrical cooling.
Images Courtesy of Ehrlich Architects