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  1. ArchDaily
  2. Projects
  3. Institutional Buildings
  4. United Arab Emirates
  5. MZ Architects
  6. 2010
  7. Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects

Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects

  • 01:00 - 4 June, 2012
Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects
Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects, Courtesy of  mz architects
Courtesy of mz architects

Courtesy of  mz architects Courtesy of  mz architects Courtesy of  mz architects Courtesy of  mz architects +13

  • Architects

  • Location

    Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates
  • Project Year

    2010
  • Photographs

    Courtesy of mz architects
  • Project Manager

    Al Dar Laing O'Rourke Construction
  • Civil, Mechanical and Electrical Engineer

    ARUP
  • Facade Design and Construction

    Josef Gartner
  • Total built-up Area (including basement)

    123,000 sqm
  • Cost

    AED 1,000,000,000
  • Owner & Developer

    Al Dar Properties
  • More SpecsLess Specs

The concept:

The AlDar Headquarters designed by MZ Architects has a distinctive and innovative design: a semispherical building comprising two circular convex shaped facades linked by a narrow band of indented glazing. This iconic fully glazed structure is completely circular in elevation and curved in all other directions.

The circular shape in architecture:

The Circle symbolizes unity, stability, rationality. It is also the symbol of infinity, without beginning or end, perfection, the ultimate geometric symbol. It represents a completeness which encompasses all space and Time.

The Sphere, the 2-dimentional circle, is hailed by Boullée as the ideal and perfect form since no trick of perspective can alter its appearance .

Courtesy of  mz architects
Courtesy of mz architects

Inspired by the symbolism of the Circle and the Sphere, architects have used the geometric round shape in their building designs since the beginning of time. The circular shape of the tholos, the greek temple with a round ground plan rather than a square or rectangular one, is not unusual in Greek architecture and has also been used later on in the Roman building typology.

In 1784, Boullée conceived his most emblematic project: the Cenotaph for Isaac Newton which would have taken the form of an immense sphere 150 m high, mirroring the universe, and embedded in a circular base. This structure remained however a sketch and was never built.

Throughout the modern history of architecture, architects have also been designing and realizing circular-based buildings, round towers as well as domes and spheres used notably in the development of planetaria and theatres. The circular shape has always been used in the ground and floor plans with the traditional building elevation and roof. However, no one has attempted to build a structure completely circular in elevation. Such an idea would normally be left on sketches.

Courtesy of  mz architects
Courtesy of mz architects

The birth of the AlDar HQ shape:

Aldar HQ designed by MZ Architects has a distinctive and innovative design of this kind; its circular convex shaped façade gives it an outstanding and unique frontal altitude. This iconic fully glazed structure is completely circular in elevation and curved in all other directions.

When challenged to create an iconic structure on Al Raha beach, Marwan Zgheib decided to create a simple building that would possess the calm, ideal beauty of classical architecture while also having considerable expressive power, a building that would compete with the iconic architecture of the UAE and create a sense of place and identity for the area.

To attain this end, Zgheib first had to select from natural forms, under the guidance of a concept of regularity. Accordingly, he was inspired by the clam shell which has deep meaning for Abu Dhabi with its seafaring heritage, as well as the symbolism of the geometric round shape, and imagined two giant circular curved walls of glass mirroring an open clam shell.

An extremely pure geometrical but daring design was born: a round skyscraper with a curved glass skin covering the area of four football fields.

geometry sketches
geometry sketches

The harmonic proportions:

To bring the massive circular concept to life, the issues of visual stability, harmony and dynamism proved to be crucial. The real challenge of the façade was to find the two points where the building should pose on the ground – and for that, the development of the volume began by using one of the oldest rules in architecture: the rule of proportion based on the Golden Section.

The golden section is not merely an aesthetic proportion important to artists, but an omnipresent cosmic principle that induces structural differentiation. Indeed, this ratio appears in the works of nature (such as the human body, the bodies of animals, plants and crystals) and is naturally preferred by the human mind and eye. The proportions of the Greek temple reflect the pleasing aesthetic ratio of the golden section.

When applying the golden section ratio to the circular façade of the building, the circle was divided into a pentagram, on which the Human Body is juxtaposed with head and four limbs at the five points of the pentagram. Accordingly, the architects were able to locate the two points of stability of the circular facade; the two points of the circle where the building will meet the earth thus creating the perfect balance.

These guidelines created the initial massing and dynamic shape of the building.

elevation 02
elevation 02

Fusion of the façade and the roof:

Unlike the conventional four sided buildings, the circular building challenges the approach to construction by questioning the typical roof structure. This three faceted building relies on its zipper-like element, a continuous glass and structural band that stitches the two main facets together, creating a slim continuous surface that is both vertical and horizontal, side and face, window and roof. This lateral element, the structural ‘backbone’ of the project, brilliantly creates the fusion between façade and roof and allows for the monolithic shape of the object.

ground floor plan
ground floor plan

The facade curvature:

The striking shape of this building is achieved through the use of an external structural triangular diagrid – a diagonal grid of steel. The first of its kind in the UAE, it allowed the creation of structural efficiency and stability appropriate to the circular building with greater flexibility than a conventional rectangular form. The system not only helped minimize the impact of the steel frame on the façade but also served as an architectural element that blurred all sense of scale and inflated the structure, moving away from the typical horizontal stratification of the facades that influenced most high rises in the area. This diagrid system eliminates the need for internal columns which would compromise the aesthetic appeal as well as the views from within. This improved the building's efficiency, providing layout flexibility for tenants. Although there are just 23 floors, the building has the same floor area as a typical 40-storey tower.

The curved glass skin became one of its most complex components to be executed. In order to solve the challenge of the façade curvature, triangular pieces of flat glass combined into diamond like shapes, came together like a puzzle working with the diagrid and the highly complex geometry of the skin.

As part of the master plan, the circular building faces the road on a west-east elevation, allowing both the sunset and sunrise to be visible in the glass. The glass facades do not only reflect the project’s surrounding and the vibrant new city in which it was born but also allow one to face his own reflection and image in the much larger universe.

section
section

The building’s sustainable strategies:

The project was developed in line with the US Green Building Council LEED rating system. It is one of the first eco-friendly official buildings in Abu Dhabi, which is made up of recyclable kind of materials like steel, concrete and glass, and includes a district cooling plant, as well as efficient lighting and water systems. The building maximizes natural light, with meeting areas and offices spread around the perimeter of each floor. A subterranean automated vacuum waste collection system is also incorporated to reuse all the waste products of the building. The first of its kind in Abu Dhabi, the system sucks rubbish directly to a local waste transfer station for recycling and compacting.

This construction was completed by keeping the environmental factors in mind, now it is capable to achieve the lowest LEED silver rating award by US Green Building Council. The building's efficiency is classed as 82%, making it the most efficient design for the floor area.

Courtesy of  mz architects
Courtesy of mz architects
Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: "Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects" 04 Jun 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/240524/al-dar-headquarters-mz-architects/>
Read comments

79 Comments

Fissan · January 22, 2015

No interior photographs? Superb approach to space.

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salim · January 29, 2013

Elegant building….

Ahmed Shihabuddeen · January 27, 2013

It is an amazing structure. Those have different views, it is your time to visit the structure and comment.

Patrick Lloyd · January 25, 2013

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should....

brooke anders · January 25, 2013

One of the most beautiful buildings in the world! I admire it every time I travel from Dubai to Abu Dhabi! BRAVO!

brooke anders · January 25, 2013

One of the most beautiful buildings in the word! I admire it every time I travel from Dubai to Abu Dhabi! BRAVO!

Ralph Kent · January 25, 2013

@Archdaily - you really need to do something about these / this spammer (s) who keeps posting these pathetic posts in praise of this building. I am bewildered why their mindless fanboy posts are consistently allowed, but any criticism is frequently moderated out. It doesn't say much for the integrity of the site.

Fawzi Zgheib · January 25, 2013

This building definitely deserves to be the Best Building of the Year!

adel karam · January 25, 2013

What a pure geometric form! This is architecture at its best!

adel karam · January 25, 2013

What a pure and geometric form! This is architecture at its best! WAW!

ELY · January 23, 2013

Exquisite!!! Amazing Architecture among an impressive Structure

Rania Abou Dib · January 23, 2013

So creative !!!!!!!!!

Kris · January 23, 2013

Elegant building….

Serena · January 23, 2013

Holistic approach to structure form and function.Challenging.

Ricardo · January 23, 2013

Strong project…strong idea…distinct architecture…

Rania abou dib · January 22, 2013

Beautiful!!!!!!Continue LIKE this !!!!!!

Rania abou dib · January 22, 2013

Amazing !!!!!!!!!!Wish u the best !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

pierre sakr · January 21, 2013

amazing project , pure simple ... great landmark

nas · January 21, 2013

HATERS!!! this building is awesome specially at night

Emile · January 20, 2013

amazing project..... challenging design.....

marwan mallat · January 18, 2013

Nice work

Carole Ann Thompson · June 28, 2012

Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/OSrwwyiq via @archdaily

SandmanDubai · June 15, 2012

Stunning, unusual #architecture: Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects http://t.co/8YvewpNq via @zite

GHUM · June 15, 2012

Photos of the semispherical Aldar HQ, one of the first eco-friendly official buildings in Abu Dhabi http://t.co/QDW80z3h

Mikel, ???? · June 14, 2012

Photos of the semispherical Aldar HQ, one of the first eco-friendly official buildings in Abu Dhabi http://t.co/QDW80z3h

Andrew Collinson · June 14, 2012

What an interesting looking building - the semispherical, eco-friendly Al Dar HQ in Abu Dhabi: http://t.co/tVmeIsRL

??? · June 14, 2012

Photos of the semispherical Aldar HQ, one of the first eco-friendly official buildings in Abu Dhabi http://t.co/QDW80z3h

David Sánchez · June 14, 2012

Photos of the semispherical Aldar HQ, one of the first eco-friendly official buildings in Abu Dhabi http://t.co/QDW80z3h

Peter Forbes · June 14, 2012

If you think you&#39ve seen it all architecturally, try the Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/aSkFx9Ow via @archdaily

EliCa · June 14, 2012

Photos of the semispherical Aldar HQ, one of the first eco-friendly official buildings in Abu Dhabi http://t.co/QDW80z3h

Arup Group · June 14, 2012

Photos of the semispherical Aldar HQ, one of the first eco-friendly official buildings in Abu Dhabi http://t.co/QDW80z3h

Barbara Mack · June 09, 2012

Stunning, unusual #architecture: Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects http://t.co/8YvewpNq via @zite

John McDuffie · June 08, 2012

Al Dar Headquarters. http://t.co/iyo5ffuI

Nicholas Patten · June 08, 2012

Al Dar Headquarters. http://t.co/iyo5ffuI

AllAboutDoor&Windows · June 08, 2012

WOAH BABY. The AIDar HQ in Abu Dhabi is ridiculously awesome. So much glass. All curved. #LOVE. http://t.co/si0meyeg

wassim alam · June 07, 2012

Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects http://t.co/R9kBoJBy #architecture

Bert · June 07, 2012

Just because ARUP can engineer it, doesn't make it a good architectural proposition. Step away from the keyboard, bin the renderings and start over. (too late in this case)

KGL · June 07, 2012

To quote the article "Such an idea would normally be left on sketches". They've just proven why.

john · June 07, 2012

Gosh - the 'full frontal' shot was the first one that I had a good look at, and I had to lean into my computer screen to check if it was CG
What next?!

Ciaran McAleenan · June 07, 2012

View the Al Dar HQ: http://t.co/orid2daD via @archdaily

Felix Grau · June 07, 2012

Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/XVeuPoaZ

Becky#IDRR · June 06, 2012

It looks like a yo-yo!!
http://t.co/N5EF9eQB
#architecture #AbuDhabi

UAE · June 06, 2012

It looks like a yo-yo!!
http://t.co/N5EF9eQB
#architecture #AbuDhabi

James Lemanis · June 06, 2012

It looks like a yo-yo!!
http://t.co/N5EF9eQB
#architecture #AbuDhabi

Ayse Teke · June 06, 2012

Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects http://t.co/ByXldf7F via @zite

Who Dat Consulting · June 06, 2012

Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects http://t.co/S65iMtjA

walt fabiszak · June 06, 2012

Well, someone had to do it. I just hope it's not the start of a trend. Carry on.

Adam Mayer · June 06, 2012

Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/w1SUghuX via @archdaily

Sara E. Mayhew · June 06, 2012

Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects http://t.co/I2faOMx1 #architecture #design

Kasia · June 06, 2012

Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/UKhSg6CN via @archdaily

Alexey Shishkin · June 06, 2012

Yo-yo megastore? XD

Florangel Rodriguez · June 06, 2012

RT @ArchDaily Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects http://t.co/hIHRtULQ #architecture

Tomorrow's Project · June 06, 2012

Circles in the sand…and sky. See this UAE building’s innovative #design http://t.co/y83GmCt3 via @ArchDaily

David de Jong · June 06, 2012

Gaaf rond kantoor in Abu Dhabi http://t.co/tV9wNApw #dubbeltje #architecture #design

Isidro Iglesias · June 05, 2012

Ya han acabado la galleta de 110 m de Abu Dhabi, Al Dar Headquarters/MZ Architects http://t.co/trhPUh34 @archdaily #crimenesarquitectonicos

Fatima Malik · June 05, 2012

I so love this! Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/mMDTqEby via @archdaily

jeb · June 05, 2012

butiful
reminds my of early zumthor innit.

Mark · June 06, 2012 02:51 AM

Early Zumthor? Uh, hmmm, yeah... no.

Richard Peck · June 05, 2012

Would love to see how the interior space is worked out

arnold · June 05, 2012

Finally a profile on this beautiful, unique building.

Ralph Kent · June 05, 2012 06:29 PM

If you think this is beautiful, I'd hate to see what you call ugly.

bob · June 05, 2012

a great building with minimum lines.

impressive.

? ?JI ? · June 05, 2012

RT| Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects: Courtesy of MZ Architects
Architects: MZ Architects
Location... http://t.co/XGnyFNmz @archdaily

Travel Writer · June 05, 2012

RT| Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects: Courtesy of MZ Architects
Architects: MZ Architects
Location... http://t.co/wp7K5Jb5 @archdaily

worldworx · June 05, 2012

Al Dar HeadquartersAbu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates by MZ Architects http://t.co/DRwONISu #architecture #middleeast #gulf

john adams · June 05, 2012

funny. if it were a project by Norman Foster everyone would be saying how amazing and beautiful it is. size doesn't matter, but names do.

marty · June 05, 2012 05:07 PM

because everyone loved the plans for foster & partner's apple campus...

People Engineering · June 05, 2012

Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects: Architects: MZ Architects
Location: Al Raha Beach, Abu Dhab... http://t.co/CHKtUc2h Chech this out!

Jose Angel Herguedas · June 05, 2012
Shawati' · June 05, 2012

A detailed journey into the creation of #AlDar #HQ building #Abudhabi / MZ Architects | ArchDaily http://t.co/iqj1OX9S via @archdaily

Ashton Coetzee · June 05, 2012

Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects http://t.co/1nraxXym

Fatima Malik · June 05, 2012

Al Dar Headquarters / MZ Architects http://t.co/R9kBoJBy #architecture

cat · June 05, 2012

challenging design

security question · June 05, 2012

If you don&#39t know much about architecture or don&#39t care, I think we can both agree this is the worst building ever made http://t.co/L3cEWH6H

white · June 05, 2012

well, I like this new Volkswagen flagship store, everyone has the right to... oh wait!

H-J · June 05, 2012 01:36 PM

Indeed, nice headlight...

Francesco · June 05, 2012

An enormous piece of nonsense...(nonsense as an euphemism)

Zarchitect · June 05, 2012

Is Al Dar looking to win the best building's Core in the world or what??? Because despite that I don't see any efficiency in the plan neither in the form of the building.

Rich · January 24, 2013 07:41 PM

why don't you look at the section....and then talk about efficiency....
the floors in the mid of the building are more than efficient.

cat · June 05, 2012 01:51 PM

you can not ask about efficiency while looking at the ground floor plan , it's obvious that the upper floors are much more efficient.

nihao · June 05, 2012

what abomination is this?

Peter · June 05, 2012

I think a few more zeroes may be missing from the project cost?

···

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Courtesy of  mz architects

阿达尔总部 / Al Dar Headquarters