10 019 APARTHOTEL ABU DHABI. 2010 8.640M2
Aparthotel competition

The magic of shadow

The hot and arid climate of the Arabian Peninsula gives a unique opportunity to enjoy the suggestive appearance of the shadow. The vernacular building of the desert is a movable structure of poles and fabric that creates a shelter both for the hot day and the chilly night. Behaving as a truly predecessor of the so called intelligent fabrics, the woven surface that is supported by poles contracts when it rains and doesn’t let the water in, its usually dark colour can become enough hot to create such a difference between interior and exterior temperature that creates an air flow that helps to stand the hottest part of the day. At night, the weave is dense enough to keep the warmth created by a small fire inside.
We propose to read and modernise such an Arab technique in order to create a building both contemporary and deeply rooted in the Arab tradition, with the intention to provide a new experience that takes advantage of the extreme conditions instead of fighting them.
The new apart hotel for the C-28 Plot it is envisioned as a shading envelope that creates exterior areas protected from the sun. Its aim is to recover a naturally acclimatised exterior area for activities, both pleasure and business.
By means of a structure of different densities depending on it orientation it is created an exterior space around all floors and basement that allows to provide a transitional space of shadow from the sun blinding exterior to the artificially controlled interiors. It density varies depending on it orientation and on the south façade a set of solar panels helps to stress the shadow, meanwhile on the north side the lattice structure shows its lowest density. Between those extreme situations it is created a subtle transition that brings different types of shadow to the interiors. The shadow envelope and the interior façade, a second skin, establish a flexible relationship, approaching and moving apart from each other depending on the program. On the northeast and southwest corners the interior façade is set apart to allow a big in-between area for the shadow to mingle, while the envelope structure extends close to the ground to maximise protection. On the other façades, the envelope goes gradually upwards marking clearly the entrance area both for pedestrians and cars. The first skin provides the experience of shadow, the second skin keeps a controlled environment.
The basement and the first floor are public. The basement houses retail shops that are connected by the space protected with shadow. The first floor is intended for meeting and reunion rooms for the apart Hotel clients or external visitors. The penthouse is occupied by a fitness and a relation areas, and allows the clients to practice sport on the exterior protected area. The rest of the floors are intended for apartments, all connected to the in-between space of shadow and offering to each client a private taste of the magic of shadow that the whole building creates.


08 042 ZA’ABEEL PARK. DUBAI. 2008 1.000M2
Tall emblem structure competition


Tall(2) Emblem(3) Structure(1) at Za’abeel Park

1. Structure


Structure usually refers to any large, man-made object permanently fixed to Earth’s surface, as a result of construction. But structure is besides that, a fundamental and sometimes intangible notion covering the recognition, observation, nature, and stability of patterns and relationships of entities. The concept of structure is therefore an essential foundation of nearly every mode of inquiry and discovery in science, philosophy, and art.
A structure defines what a system is made of. It is a configuration of items. It is a collection of inter-related components or services. The structure may be a hierarchy or a network featuring many-to-many relationships.
The competition for a Tall Emblem Structure proposes a discussion about the concept of structure. This is not just about the geometry and physics of the tower itself, but about the invisible links that relate those entities, joining the structure together. The proposal presents a tower of the required height, the first entity of the structure, that houses three airships, flying entities and also part of the structure.
Both the tower and the airships, are intimally related the same way we are attached to the place we live. The tower houses the airships and, they are linked with that place they leave in the morning and go back at night. Flying plans, views, wind directions and intensities that hit the tower… the structure is made of invisible relations between those items and the surrounding environment.
The visitor will enter the lower tower levels and the Thyseen elevator, which will accelerate to bring him up to the 120m level where the cafeteria with astonishing views over Dubai stands. The visitor’s children will for sure stop one level just above, where the children library is, at level 125m. Whether or not they go to the planned conference on the 3rd level, at 130m, it’s not that important, because they’re actually heading to the floor above that: the plattform at 130m where the airship is anchored. Depending on the direction of the winds that day, the canopy around him will turn to point it and act as protection for the airship. The visitor will then be able to board the airship through its nose and leave it for a lift around the city or to higher altitudes, to have the most amazing views of the region. The structure will expand with them, following their trace, bringing it further, as far as they will bring it with them.

2. Tall


Through centuries, the act of building has been both an action of need but also of power and perennial. Kings, popes, and heads of state have used the buildings they have promoted to leave behind them a reminder of the time they were at their positions.
Height has been one of the most desired features in the constructions man achieved through time. Rising towards the sky has been a sign of power for politics, religion, money and culture, and it has been achieved in the societies that invested in the development of the necessary technologies, to fight a temporary won battle of man against gravity.
More prosaically, the construction and use of structures separating from Earth has been used to enhance views and specially communications. From the use of mountains from which to send smoke signals, to the lighthouses and the radio antennas.
Built for the International Exhibition in 1989, as a Centennial Celebration of the French Revolution, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest structure of its time, 325m. In 1909 was about to be dismantled, but it was just kept for its communication purposes with an antenna which is still in use today.
In 1930, the tower lost the title of the world’s tallest structure when the Chrysler Building was completed in New York City. It went just one year later to the Empire State Building, also in New York, which stood as the world’s tallest building for more than forty years until the World Trade Center North Tower was completed in 1972. Afterwards the title went to the Petronas Buildings in Singapour, the Taipei 101 building in Taiwan and it will go to the Burj Dubai Building during this year 2009.
The title of “The World’s Tallest Building” is announced by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), a non-for-profit organization based at the Illinois Institute of Technology in the city of Chicago. They define the criterion that a construction need to meet to be the tallest building or tower and, they will hardly agree on the fact that the project is actually a proposal for the tallest manmade structure, for the airship, being the flying entity of the tower, will be able to fly until 8.000m with a total weight of 1Tn.
In fact, the Empire State Building spire was already designed to be a mooring mast and depot for dirigibles, while the 102nd floor was originally a landing platform with a dirigible gangplank. The idea was abandoned after a few attempts with airships, due to the powerful updrafts caused by the size of the building itself,
However, the project proposes the tower entity acting as a parapet, and therefore turning its aerodynamic head to point against the dominant winds and allow the docking of arriving airships.
If the Eiffel Tour was the tallest building of its time by using the latest technology developed, the steel structure, the proposed project presents its XXIst Century version, being the aerospace technology the current paradigm of the development and progress of our technology and societies.

3. Emblem


An Emblem is an image, abstract or representational, that represents a person, such as a king, or a country. It acts like and Ambassador, representing its country or its king. They have been deployed for ages in their name. They were their word and their image.
The project proposes a structure being an Emblem in two different ways. On one side, it is a symbol of the modernity of the emirate of Dubai, and will be appreciated by the milions of tourists visiting the region every year.
On the other hand, the three airships housed in its interior will travel around the city, the country and up to 8000m, providing touristic tours for the visitors. But they will also travel beyond the borders of Dubai, to act as Ambassadors of the country, and they will be a travelling symbol going from one city to another, a symbolic object used as an identifying mark for Dubai, such as the Skyship 600 dirigible “Spirit of Dubai”, promoting the country as a leading regional hub and home for the most iconic projects in present time.