Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Tall Emblem Structure in Za’abeel Park, Dubai, UAE by Marco Acerbis Architetto
May 15th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Marco Acerbis Architetto
XI ThyssenKrupp Elevator Architecture Award
The location of this new tower is a beautiful green area surrounding a lake and very close to the city. The proximity to the airport will give the new building an opportunity to be seen from the sky and not only from the earth. The landscape of the city area is mainly flat and with very strong sunlight. Climate conditions are typical of this latitude and are certainly extreme in some months of the year. A lot of time was spent thinking about what the best gesture for such a scenario would be. So that in one building I could respond to all area conditions and social expectations required by a new iconic tower. A particular thought was given to the experience that children shall obtain from a contemporary building.
This structure will have a shape that is easily remembered and that attracts not just because it is a higher view point over the existing town, as the new Burj Dubai skyscraper will be indeed a much better viewpoint, but because it inspires architectural and spatial experiences all around. A classic viewing tower would basically be a post with an outdoor viewing platform at the top. In such a scheme the whole spatial experience is focused on being up in the air and looking out. Over the city skyline that type of scheme would not be visible mainly due to the slim shape of the building itself, the flatness of the surroundings and the strong sunlight.
The tower here proposed achieves a lot more. It is a volume which is visible and recognizable from far away and that stands out from the city skyline and contest. Its white spheres growing one on top of the other create a tension that is balance and dynamism at the same time. Its volume is solid but ethereal. It is a building to be experienced and not just a building from which you can enjoy an outdoor visual experience.
The internal spaces are vast and glamorous, the lift journey to the top is a continuous sequence of surprises and changing scenic views, the top is a marvelous viewing space created by several different volumes merged together and then split on several levels. The views looking into the building are as surprising as the ones looking out. Like a true kaleidoscope where light, shapes, colors and shadows are the main characters of an ever changing display the tower is a permanent interactive experience.
The approach to the tower is split on two levels to reduce people flow at peak hours. The access to the library and conference facilities is on the ground floor and the two accesses to the tower top viewing decks are on the upper level by two bridges. The connection to the existing road asset is direct, with a drop off area right in front of the plaza that surrounds the building and with a dedicated access to the underground parking facility. The park paths have been mainly maintained and reconnected to the building bridges.
The main building axis is North South, and this helps to create a very good exposure to the numerous solar photovoltaic panels that are included in the façade and that will produce the electricity required to make the building function. The building façade is composed of a thin skin of white PTFE 30% translucent fabric that will protect from sunlight and that will dramatically reduce the overall weight of the building. The fabric skin provides shade and, being separated from the structure, it allows airflow for natural cooling in the central area of the building where it is envisaged to have only natural ventilation. While the north side is mainly white, as there are no photovoltaic panels, the other sides of the building are a composition of elements that work together to produce energy and create a sustainable environment through shades and soft light.
The main spaces where there is people permanence, like the podium on the ground floor and the viewing decks on the top floor, are contained in a fully mechanically ventilated glass envelope where the correct environment is controlled by air handling units. The plant room for the ground floor podium areas is in the basement and the plant room for the viewing deck at the top is in mid air, underneath the bar floor. The central hollow concrete post is dimensioned to counterbalance the building skin and to house the necessary ductwork to feed the air into the rooms. Rest rooms are provided on every level and on the top floor they are located underneath the lower deck, next to the plant room.
A spiral staircase wraps the central post from top to bottom becoming a connecting staircase in the mechanically ventilated areas and a fire escape route otherwise. There are three main lift towers, each composed of two lifts, interacting together at different floors. It is envisaged for each lift to have its own cooling system working directly on the cabin.
Structurally the building is very sound. The metalwork supporting the skin and creating the spheres of the façade supports its own weight and at the connection points between spheres there are a number of pulling strings that transfer the wind loads back into the central hollow post where dampers are located to counterbalance the tension. Spheres are naturally very sound geometrical shapes and it is to maintain this feature that at the connection point between them, where the section line is a circle, the connecting rods to the centre and the dampers act like rods in a bicycle wheel.
Simulations with wind loads and vertical loads have been carried out at this conceptual stage and the outcome is positive. This is not a building it is a journey that starts from far away approaching the tower and carries on inside as you enter the main spaces and as you are taken by lifts to the top floors and continuously experience different volumes and lights like in a huge kaleidoscope that keeps changing over time.
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