Architects: LAB Architecture Studio in association with ERGA Progress
Location: Danet Abu Dhabi – Al Qudra, United Arab Emirates
Design Team: Donald Bates, Oliver Hunt, Peter Davidson, Joseph Sawaya, Faris Hammady
Project Year: 2011
Project Area: 53,800 sqm
Client: Guardian Real Estate
Photographs: Javier Callejas Sevilla
Guardian Towers, Abu Dhabi is a mixed-use complex of an 18-storey residential tower, 18-storey commercial office tower and 2-level retail podium.
The project sets these two mid-rise blocks in an off-set relationship, allowing for slipped views and adjacent vistas. The blocks undergo a process of slicing, shift and slight rotation, breaking the static tradition of extruded, rectangular tower blocks. In doing so, the project provides a more dynamic and more elaborate development of the façade in relation to building form and in relation to the whole ensemble. Part of a large new real estate development with more than 35 towers (next to more than a dozen existing blocks), this strategy provides the project with specific development logic.
The project is effectively two plots that have been joined to form a communal ensemble. Guardian Towers accommodates these different uses with a coherence that helps it read as a single project, and yet also allows for the different occupancies to read through, particularly in the facades. The residential tower is linear and extended, providing for balconies and apartment views, while the office block is compressed, with efficient floor plates.
The project was achieved by collaboration between LAB Architecture Studio and the local architects, ERGA-Progress, working in tandem with other consultants and specialist inputs. This included extensive testing and visualisation of the facades and fritted glazing to evaluate the internal and external consequences of these types of façade. The double-skin façade for the residential tower was a response to the Abu Dhabi climate, with extreme heat and humidity during summer, but more moderate temperatures during winter and spring.
The open slots – as well as open balconies of the residential façade – allow for the glazed and fritted glass of the external skin to modify and ameliorate the direct solar gain, with the recessed windows and balcony doors partially protected from direct solar penetration. The gradient fritting on the office façade allows the offices to retain floor to ceiling glazing to all offices, but with only partial transparency to the window-wall – again restricting the over-all solar gain to the offices.
For all of the apparent complexity of the massing and facades, with shifted, off-set and tilted surfaces, the structural plan of both towers follows a very simple and economical column grid. The manipulated facades are a consequence of the judicious use of nominal cantilevers, easily constructed and with no structural gymnastics. The project was delivered 2 months early and with considerable savings, and is now fully occupied for both the residential and office towers.
The ground floor and podium includes retail and food and beverage tenancies. The café/restaurant on the north side of the office tower is very successful, allowing Guardian Towers to create a sense of destination and social interaction for the occupants of the two towers, as well as for many of the existing and recent towers within the immediate precinct. The ambiance and shaded forecourt of the north side allows for a unique zone of urban relaxation and conversation.