Hyperbole is common in the blogosphere, but we're not exaggerating when we say that Siemens has completed and now inaugurated the greenest office building ever built in the Middle East. Designed by David Ardill from the enormously respected firm Sheppard Robson with crucial input from Masdar City's design manager Chris Wan, the LEED Platinum headquarters at Abu Dhabi's world-renowned eco city not only has a striking presence among other buildings in this ever-evolving clean tech cluster, but also slashes energy and water consumption by an impressive 50 percent. To ensure that the office building for a staff of 800 makes sound business sense and to demonstrate that it really is feasible to build smart, efficient, and powerful buildings without spending more than a conventional build requires, Siemens set a firm budget that the design team not only stuck to, but even managed to shave off. Inhabitat was present at the official inauguration ceremony attended by several Sheikhs from the United Arab Emirates, thanks to a Masdar-sponsored media trip, and captured a raft of exclusive pictures - flip through our gallery for a closer look.
Clad in light aluminum fins that provide 100 percent shading to 95 percent of the glazed surfaces, Siemens’ new headquarters at Masdar City is also embedded with several of the corporate giant’s own technology to boost its performance. These include an Advanced Building Management System to enhance energy efficiency and savings, security systems such as CCTV and access control, a fire alarm, gas suppression and a state-of-the-art lighting control and management system.
Floated on stilts to create a shaded urban plaza that makes use of the prevailing winds to create a comfortable microclimate, the building takes the form of a highly insulated “box within a box” protected by an incredibly efficient inner skin that keeps solar gain to an absolute minimum. Thanks to the external shading system, this office building enjoys plenty of daylighting, and a thoughtful layout of interior lights (i.e. never located above desks so that employees can control their own lighting requirements with desktop lamps) that help to minimize energy waste.
David Ardill went to incredible lengths with almost manic parametric analysis to come up with a configuration and material palette that would keep material use and waste down as well as make the most efficient use of space. The resulting low rise has a comfortable, inspiring ambience, promotes social interaction among employees, and enjoys a light-filled core shaded by a sail-like canopy. With a total building size of 22,800 square meters, the first LEED-Platinum construction of its kind in Abu Dhabi could have had an enormous carbon footprint. Instead, carbon emitted throughout the entire manufacture, transport and construction lifecycle amounted to 30 percent less than typical office building of a similar heft.
Ardill worked 120 hour weeks to attend to the finest detail of every single aspect of the Siemens design – right down to whether it made more material sense to use square or round columns (it turns out that round columns require a smaller material investment.) On their own, such decisions may appear to have a negligible impact, but the accumulated energy and material savings has culminated in a sharp, no-nonsense structure that has already won 16 awards. If you haven’t already, be sure to look through our gallery for a closer look at the unique shading facade, the naturally-lit interior, the mesmerizing spiraling staircase, and other features of what truly is the most inspired office building we’ve had the good fortune to tour.