MVRDV has started construction on Pixel, a mixed-use development in Abu Dhabi that promotes an innovative building typology very different from the prevalent style of disconnected towers in the United Arab Emirates. Designed to encourage community building and enjoyment of the outdoors, Pixel will comprise seven mid-rise towers of varying heights grouped around a central plaza. The 85,000-square-meter development will be located in Abu Dhabi’s new Makers District and will emphasize the neighborhood’s values of creativity, learning and sharing.

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Named after the pixelated appearance of the building facades, Pixel will include 525 apartments of varying sizes — ranging from studios to spacious three-bedroom homes — shops, flexible office space suitable for startups and established companies, restaurants and a range of amenities such as a pool, gym, community spaces and a children’s playroom.

Related: MVRDV designs a Dutch office building covered in potted plants

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rendering of apartment room with white sofa and large windows with waterfront views

Staggered building heights have been informed for optimal shade conditions and views. The public plaza at the heart of the development will form part of “The Artery,” a continuous pedestrian public space that cuts through the Maker’s District and connects Pixel to the nearby beach.

rendering of studio apartment with large windows
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“The weather in Abu Dhabi is very pleasant for about eight months of the year, yet most housing there doesn’t really encourage people to spend time outside,” said Jacob van Rijs, a founding partner of MVRDV. “With Pixel, we wanted to show that a connection with the outdoors is not only possible in this city, but beneficial.”

rendering of tall building with a pixelated appearance
aerial rendering of tall, green-roofed buildings

In addition to the creation of outdoor spaces and connection with neighboring Makers District spaces, the design of the towers encourages social engagement as well. The facades “break down” into balconies and bay windows that face the lively plaza below. Ceramic screens with a shimmering pearlescent finish — a nod to Abu Dhabi’s pearl diving heritage — help create a comfortable outdoor environment.


Images via MVRDV