Sunday, December 29, 2013

Abu Dhabi!

The “Circle Building” - Aldar HQ; Abu Dhabi
Have Money, Will Build: One rather glorious off-shoot of a rich Arab oil Emirate, and its need to build a modern new city fast, is that you can end up with a collection of exceptional modern architecture. You might also have a few tasteless bits in there too, but there’s the potential...

In Abu Dhabi, they’ve amassed an impressive collection. My favourites are the Sheikh Zayed Bridge by Zaha Hadid, (built 1997 - 2010) and Etihad Towers by Australian architects DBI Design.

Hadid's Sheikh Zayed Bridge, at 842 meter long, is said to be the most intricate bridge ever constructed. Its curved design arches evoke undulating sand dunes of the desert. "The bridge features - besides its striking architecture - a dynamic lighting design that is based on subtle colours that flow across the bridge's spine, symbolising the connecting nature of the bridge and the energy that the capital city Abu Dhabi radiates. The bridge is the third traffic route connecting the mainland to the island of Abu Dhabi and the new main gateway over the Maqtah channel. The bridge was designed by architect Zaha Hadid as the grandeur landmark for the UAE's capital city." (source)

Sheikh Zayed Bridge
Driving across Zaha Hadid's bridge.
Aerial view. (source)
Etihad Towers.
The Etihad Towers website waxes lyrical about these five delicate skyscrapers, clustered together, reaching 74 storeys:

With five stunning towers that sparkle iridescently in the never-ending sunshine – Etihad Towers is a reflection of  everything that Abu Dhabi is and will be… modern, sophisticated and luxurious.. 
After several years of planning and design, 2006 was a special year for His Highness Sheikh Suroor Bin Mohammed Al Nahyan and his Projects Department, for this was when construction work got underway. His Highness can be proud of succeeding in creating a very inspirational, prestigious and desirable landmark in the UAE. The scope, magnitude and uniqueness is breathtaking. 
The Australian architects DBI Design have created a sculptural feat that is a true landmark of the City. Changing the Abu Dhabi skyline forever the towers offer the most amazing vantage points – with sweeping panoramic views over the vibrant city and Arabian Sea.
Foyer of the Jumierah Hotel, Etihad Towers
One of the slim and beautiful Etihad Towers houses the Jumierah Hotel where I stayed in Abu Dhabi - great choice. The interior, slathered with the marble that the Gulf States seems to love so much (I guess it's cool and luxurious, so why not?), is actually quite impressive. The lobby soars, the exotic slabs of coloured marble entice, the glass curtain windows look out over the sea and city - and you can visit the bar on the 74 floor of Tower Three for afternoon tea.

Side view of the Circle Building, Aldar HQ. 
But let’s also mention the “Circle Building” - Aldar HQ. The 23-storey circular building at the capital’s Al Raha Beach has been named in a list of 16 eye-catching structures compiled by a jury of experts. Designed by MZ Architects, which has offices in Abu Dhabi and Lebanon, the 110-metre tall building, which opened in 2010, was the first upright circular building in the Middle East.

This is not the first time the building has won international recognition – it was named Best Futuristic Design at the 2008 Building Exchange Conference in Spain. (source)

Pineapple Building: Abu Dhabi’s Al Bahr Towers
"Abu Dhabi’s striking Al Bahr Towers, their design inspiring comparisons with exotic pineapples and honeycombs, have been named among the world’s best towers in a highly regarded award for high-rise architecture. The twin 29-storey super-green Abu Dhabi Investment Council headquarters came second in the Emporis skyscraper awards for projects completed last year.
The buildings are known for their distinctive covering of 2,000 umbrella-like elements that can be opened and closed to keep the sun off the glass building as it moves across the sky but also let in daylight. The German-based skyscraper data company Emporis praised the Aedis-designed office towers for providing “a dynamic, translucent facade that runs off power generated by photovoltaic panels and which reacts to sunlight.” The towers have already featured on the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s “Innovative 20” list of buildings that “challenge the typology of tall buildings in the 21st century”. The latest award comes after Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Towers was awarded third place in the competition last year." (source)

Yas Viceroy Hotel over an F1 racetrack (image source)
Then there’s the Yas Viceroy Hotel with the F1 race track going right through it...

Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel is located within the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi. It is the first new hotel in the world to be built over an F1 race circuit. The Hotel, designed by Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture, principals of New York based Asymptote Architecture, consists of two twelve story hotel towers, one set within the race circuit and another placed in the Marina itself, linked together by a monocoquesteel and glass bridge and Grid Shell structure that both cross above and over the Yas Marina Circuit F1 race track.
Asymptote created and conceived of the building as an architectural landmark embodying key influences and local and global inspirations ranging from the aesthetics and forms associated with speed and spectacle to the artistry and geometries that form the basis of ancient Islamic art and craft traditions.
Of architectural and engineering significance is the main feature of the hotelʼs design: a 217-meter expanse of sweeping, curvilinear glass and steel covering known as the Grid Shell: it features an LED lighting system incorporating video feeds that are transmitted over the 5,389 pivoting diamond-shaped colour changing LED panes. This Grid-Shell component is a key aspect of the overall architectural design and significance of the project by producing an atmospheric-like veil visible from miles away. (source: Wiki) . A interesting footnote: the "Grid-Shell Building Information Modeling Consultants" were none other than Gehry Technologies.

View of the F1 racetrack on the approach to the Yas Viecroy Hotel.
Capital Gate, the ‘Leaning Building’
Wiki has the info: "Capital Gate is a skyscraper in Abu Dhabi adjacent to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre designed with a striking lean. At 160 m (520 ft) and 35 stories, it is one of the tallest buildings in the city and features an 18-degree incline to the west... The tower (also known as the Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi) is the focal point of the Capital Center/Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre master development....In June 2010, the Guinness Book of World Records certified Capital Gate as the "World’s furthest leaning man-made tower."...
The building has a diagrid especially designed to absorb and channel the forces created by wind and seismic pressure, as well as the gradient of Capital Gate. Capital Gate is thought to be the Middle East's first building to use a diagrid; others around the world include London's 30 St Mary Axe (Gherkin), New York's Hearst Tower and Beijing's National Stadium.
The Capital Gate project was able to achieve its inclination through an engineering program that allows floor plates to be stacked vertically up to the 12th storey, and staggered over each other by between 300mm to 1400mm, which allows for the tower's lean.
Capital Gate was designed by architectural firm RMJM and was due for completed in 2011. Capital Gate houses the 5-star Hyatt Capital Gate hotel and office space."

Abu Dhabi
Try this blog for info on some interesting buildings of Au Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi skyline from the Etihad Towers.

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