Set in the crowded avenues of Dubai, Foster + Partners' super-tall mixed-use Index Tower has stood out to win the 2011 award for the best building in the Middle East and Africa, bestowed by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Foster + Partners seems to have the knack for building in the desert, as the skyscraper has multiple layers of heat-reducing elements but still allows daylight to penetrate deep into the interiors. Measuring in at at 1,070 feet, the tower is an icon of super-tall design for hot climates.
The 80 story mixed-use building, located in the heart of Dubai, holds 47 floors of apartments up top and 25 floors of offices below. The energy needed to keep all of those occupants cooled has been greatly reduced by careful planning — starting with orientation. The east and west sides are designed to be narrow in order to keep the low sun from penetrating the interior.
The south side is covered in shade-providing overhangs that run the entire length of the façade, blocking any direct sunlight. The shallow profile and column-less interior allows the office spaces to still receive natural light throughout. The ceilings rise at the windows to allow the upper glazing’s illumination to penetrate further into the interior. The shaded entrance is surrounded by a large water feature that cools the lobby and grounds, which sit directly beneath the bulk of the tower, suspended above the ground by its massive a-frame columns.
Famed architect and juror Werner Sobek notes “The Index presents a new environmental icon for the Middle East, showcasing important passive strategies of orientation, core placement and shading.”