The Abu Dhabi World Trade Center is the principal building at Al Raha Beach, forming the signature element of this new waterfront city east of Abu Dhabi. The design strategy is a highly specific response to the climate and topography of this dramatic coastal site and the building has evolved through a process of sophisticated environmental computer analysis. The resulting scheme resolves the contradictions of the site: it provides shade yet also admits light; it is cooled by a natural flow of air yet is buffered against the strong desert wind; it is asymmetrical and sculptural yet it is environmentally and functionally coherent.
Located at the eastern end of the vast semi-circular marina of Al Raha Beach, the building extends into the centre of the marina to create a peninsula that completes the lively waterside promenade. The project brings together a carefully chosen mix of offices, apartments, hotel and shops to encourage a constant pattern of economic and social activity throughout the day. The building’s sinuous form rises up to a tower to the east and is wrapped in a shimmering, undulating louvred shading system that is angled to minimize solar gain depending on orientation. The main entrance to the south connects to a soaring central atrium, which is buffered from the climatic extremes by the apartments and the conditioned offices that line the perimeter.
Although the form of the building appears to be intuitive, its logic is rooted in a sustainable environmental strategy that relies on a series of passive controls. To the south, the building is indented to reduce the area of the building most vulnerable to direct sunlight, with the services and circulation cores occupying most of the remaining exposed areas. At ground level, the overhang of the roof creates a shaded walkway that wraps around the site, and the roof is streamlined according to the prevailing winds to encourage cooling air currents around and through the building.