Al Bahr Towers
Abu Dhabi, UAE
A standout landmark in Abu Dhabi
The groundbreaking Al Bahr Towers in Abu Dhabi feature the world’s largest computerised dynamic facade. The design concept is based on the fusion between bio-inspiration, regional architecture, and performance-based technology.
As a benchmark for a highly considered approach in the built environment, the towers proudly stand at the fore of this new orientation.
This was successfully achieved by respecting the historical, cultural, and environmental nature of the region whilst providing a unique state-of-the-art design reflecting the aspirations and vision of Abu Dhabi.
Inspired by its surroundings
The project brief required two 25-storey towers to create an outstanding landmark building in Abu Dhabi which provides a contemporary design using modern technology, while considering the region’s architectural heritage together with the status of the clients’ organisation.
The aspirations of the brief were consistent with a number of other initiatives within Abu Dhabi at that time, namely the recent publication of the Abu Dhabi 2030 Plan, promotion of the Masdar initiative on renewable technology together with the recently published Estidama standard.
A unique and inspiring look
The Al Bahr Towers design is based on the concept of adaptive flowers and the 'Mashrabiya', a wooden lattice shading screen. The Mashrabiya acts as a secondary skin that mediates daylight, helping to reduce glare.
The geometry of the shading screen folds and unfolds based on the movement of the sun, reducing solar gain by up to 50%, whilst simultaneously improving visibility through control of the light coming in.
The original folding concept for the dynamic Mashrabiya unit was initially explained through a simple origami model that revealed how the triangular unit would function.
The plan of the towers is based on six tangential arcs, taken from three intersecting circles – a pattern which forms the basis of nearly all geometric configurations known to the region.
The 2,098 dynamic units avoid the need for heavily treated glass, thereby reducing the need for significant artificial lighting and mechanical air conditioning.
This helps to improve peoples' experience and comfort using the building. Decreasing energy usage and plant size provides an efficient system that lends itself to a more sustainable solution.
research and development
Down to the very last detail
We used advanced computational design techniques and developed bespoke applications to simulate the movement of the facade in response to the sun’s path. We then went on to support the detailed design development by undertaking a variety of simulations.
The performance criteria and geometry build-up of the system design were conveyed using Geometry Construction & Performance Manual
This freed the design-to-construction process from locking it down to certain platforms and computer technologies and offered a universal data exchange language, enabling all parties to communicate more effectively.
The same advanced techniques were later used to derive the geometry from which a single integrated building model was created and this model was in turn used to ensure proper coordination of the various building elements.
Ahead of its time
dynamic screens used across two towers
sqm floor space
reduction in solar gain
savings in carbon emissions
mashrabiya unit height
tonne reduction in CO2 per annum
Abu Dhabi Investment Council
High tech gymnasium
Middle East Architect Awards 2013
Winner - Best Overall Project in the Middle East
Middle East Architect Awards 2013
Winner - Commercial Project of the Year
The International Award for Facade Engineering Excellence 2013
Winner - Project of the Year
Architizer A+ Awards 2014
Winner - Office Building High Rise
The Chicago Athenaeum 2014
Winner - International Architecture Award
RTF Sustainability Awards 2014
Winner - Commercial Design
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