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.
The Helix Hotel in Abu Dhabi, UAE by Leeser Architecture
May 9th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Leeser Architecture
Al Qudra Real Estate (AQRE) intend to call out to a design competition for an iconic hotel in Zayed Bay Development in the choice property between Sheikh Zayed Bridge and the sea, as a waterfront mixed-use development situated at the entrance of Abu Dhabi Island – United Arab Emirates.Zayed Bay was planned as a mixed-use community comprising office, residential, commercial, retail, entertainment, hotel, and community services facilities. A project is an iconic, 9 stories, five-star hotel which caters to the development and the region. Well appointed, fully equipped and prestigious designed, the hotel is the ideal setting for business meetings, conferences, press events and workshops. Although it primarily caters to the elite businessman, the hotel also offers a host of leisure, sports, entertainment and gastronomy facilities.
Conceptually, the Helix Hotel participates in a critical dialogue between opulence and urbanness, between the variety of services offered by a small city and the demands of a five-star hotel guest. The floor suggests the curves a winding street would take through a bustling town, and many programmatic elements are open to views from across the central void. Though the void seems to offer unmitigated visibility, there are enclaves for private meetings and guest privacy. It is designed so that one activity feeds into the next rather than affecting sharp separations between each activity. In this way it develops a feeling of being free to whimsically experience all aspects of the hotel without having to decide on an agenda in advance.
On the luxury side of vacation culture, there are playful elements that make the hotel a designer destination in an iconic setting. From the outset, it is as much a showplace for the abundance of opulent life as it is a fully incorporated urban experience. For example, the building has a functional reverse fountain, which drops water from the ceiling down through the void to the lower lobby. At the entry, valets drive clients cars into the car park, which, rather than being predictably aboveground or underneath the hotel, is situated instead under the bay. Cars are literally driven into the water. As guests make their way up to their suites, remarkable views out onto the Zayed Bay become even more dramatic on the upper floors. At the top of the Helix, the rooftop pool deck features a full sized swimming pool with a glass bottom, with the water and swimmers visible from eight floors below at ground level. In the restaurant below the lobby, the bay waves are so near to the floor plate that they lap up onto the edge of the restaurant inside of the glass curtain wall. The wall retracts, revealing a sweeping breeze.
While focusing on unique design, Leeser Architecture is also committed to sound sustainability practices and worked with consultant Atelier Ten to determine the best possible conditions and materials for heat and energy conservation. The indoor waterfall allows for the accumulation of heat inside the hotel to be minimal by filtering cool water back up into the system as it falls through the void. In the sub-lobby, a dynamic glass wall is built from the base of the second floor down into the water. The wall acts as a curtain would, opening when the weather is cool enough and closing when it is too hot for exposure to the desert air. Portions of the outside surface are clad in panels made of a new material called GROW, which has both photovoltaic and wind harnessing capabilities.
Consultants on the project include ARUP (structural and mechanical design) and Atelier 10 (environmental and green design).
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