The residential and commercial development of Al Reem Island is currently under construction on a natural 633-hectare island, close to the north eastern coast of Abu Dhabi city. When complete it will house 280,000 residents, as well as providing schools, medical clinics, shopping malls, restaurants, sports facilities, hotels, resorts, spas, gardens and beaches. Foster + Partners has designed two landmark residential towers on the island, which are located on the main pedestrian boulevard running parallel to the Grand Canal.
As well as helping to define the skyline of the new development, the towers animate the ground plane with two retail podiums, which connect to the pedestrian boulevard. Their form has evolved in response to the climate, as well as a desire to give residents the best possible views. The buildings are tilted on the site at a fifty degree angle to establish a more solid eastern and western façade and to prevent solar gain, with a glazed southern and northern façade. The southern façade is punctuated by shaded internal balconies. Blurring the boundaries between inside and outside space, the doors to these balconies can be opened to create an external ‘room’ in the cooler months. Along the solid western façade, inset horizontal light shafts admit daylight, while preventing heat from the sun penetrating the interiors. Viewed from inside, these strips of glazing are framed to establish “vista pods” with panoramic views. On plan, the towers appear as a series of geometric rhomboids that extend from two connected linear cores. In elevation, this plan rises to form a cluster of defined volumes to break down the scale of the buildings. The facades are further animated by the inset terraces and glazing.
The heights of the volumes are randomly staggered so that the buildings appear like a cluster of smaller towers. Roof gardens extend over the lower tiers, and at the apex of each tower there is a panoramic swimming pool and spa. The towers offer a combination of one, two and three bedroom apartments. Each typology has a defined identity to respond to the needs of the market. The colour palette is a combination of browns, greys and whites respectively. There is integrated seating below the “vista pods” to reinforce the views as a feature. At ground level, the retail podia are set into gardens that step down to the Grand Canal pedestrian boulevard.