Australia-based LAVA Architects recently won the bid to design the City Center for super sustainable eco-city Masdar in the UAE. LAVA imagined an outdoor city center based on traditional European public plazas that would encourage social interaction. However, Masdar’s arid climate make outdoor spaces subject to the blistering heat of the desert. To ameliorate this problem and create a comfortable place to gather and shop, the architects incorporated adaptive building technologies, and efficient use of energy and water — creating a rather dazzling sustainable city center.
LAVA’s design for Masdar’s city center includes a central plaza, five-star hotel, long stay hotel, convention center, entertainment complex as well as retail facilities. While most retail and public gathering spaces in the Middle East are located indoors and air-conditioned, LAVA wanted to create a distinct outdoor public plaza modeled after traditional European plazas. In order to maintain a comfortable atmosphere, the architects designed “solar umbrellas” to shade the plaza and keep the air moving through. Modeled after flowers, the solar umbrellas open up during the day and close up at night to keep the plaza cool.
The city center includes many other integrated sustainable design features, such as adaptive building facades that can adjust and angle themselves to receive more or less sun, and wall surface materials that respond to changing temperatures and contain minimal embedded energy. The city center will also store water underground, have rooftop gardens to grow food, reuse organic waste, utilize interactive light poles, interactive and heat-sensitive technology, generate its own energy and be very water-efficient. An intriguing design for the desert that has all the components to be super sustainable city center for potentially the world’s most sustainable city.