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Translucent Concrete Animates the Facade of this Abu Dhabi Mosque

By day, the concrete facade of APG Architecture and Planning Group's latest project, the Al Aziz Mosque in Abu Dhabi, features protruding elements of Arabic script spelling out the 99 names of God from the Quran. By night though, the 515 square meter facade is transformed, as the concrete script lights up in the darkness. The effect is made possible thanks to the translucent concrete paneling system provided by German-based manufacturer LUCEM.


FLASH Entertainment New Offices / M+N Architecture

© Giulio Asso @ Verdekiwi Photography © Giulio Asso @ Verdekiwi Photography © Giulio Asso @ Verdekiwi Photography © Giulio Asso @ Verdekiwi Photography

Viola Communications Office / M+N Architecture

© Giulio Asso @ Verdekiwi Photography © Giulio Asso @ Verdekiwi Photography © Giulio Asso @ Verdekiwi Photography © Giulio Asso @ Verdekiwi Photography

Ten Buildings Which Epitomize The Triumph Of Postmodernism

Being such a recent movement in the international architectural discourse, the reach and significance of post-modernism can sometimes go unnoticed. In this selection, chosen by Adam Nathaniel Furman, the "incredibly rich, extensive and complex ecosystem of projects that have grown out of the initial explosion of postmodernism from the 1960s to the early 1990s" are placed side by side for our delight.

From mosques that imagine an idyllic past, via Walt Disney’s Aladdin from the 1990s, to a theatre in Moscow that turns its façade into a constructivist collage of classical scenes, "there are categories in post-modernism to be discovered, and tactics to be learned." These projects trace forms of complex stylistic figuration, from the high years of academic postmodernism, to the more popular of its forms that spread like wildfire in the latter part of the 20th century.

Frank Gehry Tells the Story Behind Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

In just three short years, Frank Gehry’s 450,000-square-foot Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will open. More than 12 times the size of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim New York, the expansive $800 million museum will showcase 1960s art from around the world within an asymmetrical mountain of plaster blocks and self-cooling translucent cones. Anticipating its completion, the New York Times sat down with Gehry to hear the story behind the building’s design. Watch the full interview with Gehry, here

Construction Begins on Rogers Stirk Harbour's First Towers in Middle East

Details have been released on Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ first project in the Middle East: Maryah Plaza. The four-tower, one billion dollar scheme will be built on Abu Dhabi’s 114 hectare Al Maryah Island, which is slated to become the emirate’s central business district.

Inside Masdar City

The Middle East has historically been known for many things — sustainability not being one of them. The clash of Western values with the harshness of the local climate can often wedge sustainability between a lot of sand and a hard place. Though there is a broad critique of the unsustainable attributes of the region’s development path, for years there has been a shining exception: Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates, seventeen kilometers east-south-east from the city of Abu Dhabi. 

Masdar City exists as an urban development project run by the renewable energy company Masdar, who has committed $15 billion to making Masdar City the planet’s most sustainable new city. Unlike Abu Dhabi, a city which unthinkingly follows antiquated models and Western building principles, Masdar City has a wealth of potential to offer the world of green urban planning - something the world sorely needs.

But Masdar City is certainly not without its share of critics. On first approach, the concentrated development, located in the center of six square kilometers of empty space, does little to awe, especially in comparison to the sprawling wave that is Abu Dhabi. Thanks largely to the global financial recession, buildings currently comprise less than 10% of the area committed to the urban experiment. Even today there is a group of onlookers that suggest Masdar City may just be a mirage after all.

However, this broader view is not necessarily synonymous with the bigger picture.

Buildings at Masdar incorporate numerous material and construction strategies for minimizing heat gain including metal screening, terracotta cladding and air-filled wall panels. Image © Tyler Caine Exterior sun-shading on the Siemen’s Buildings, designed by Sheppard Robson. Image © Tyler Caine A public courtyard framed by student dormitories for Masdar Institute. Terracotta walls regulate solar heat gain, incorporating screens and shaded, exterior porches. Image © Tyler Caine The modular design of the sunshade panels was parametrically derived from goals of blocking the most sun, allowing the most interior view, while using the least amount of material and the least amount of structure to hang it. Image © Tyler Caine

Light Matters: Mashrabiyas - Translating Tradition into Dynamic Facades

The delicate mashrabiya has offered effective protection against intense sunlight in the Middle East for several centuries. However, nowadays this traditional Islamic window element with its characteristic latticework is used to cover entire buildings as an oriental ornament, providing local identity and a sun-shading device for cooling. In fact, designers have even transformed the vernacular wooden structure into high-tech responsive daylight systems. 

Jean Nouvel is one of the leading architects who has strongly influenced the debate about modern mashrabiyas.  His Institut du monde arabe in Paris was only the precedent to two buildings he designed for the harsh sun of the Middle East: The Doha Tower, which is completely wrapped with a re-interpretation of the mashrabiya, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum with its luminous dome.

More mashrabiyas, after the break...

BURJ DOHA, Doha, Qatar (2002 – 2012). Architecture: Ateliers Jean Nouvel. Image © CSCEC BURJ DOHA, Doha, Qatar (2002 – 2012). Architecture: Ateliers Jean Nouvel. Image © CSCEC BURJ DOHA, Doha, Qatar (2002 – 2012). Architecture: Ateliers Jean Nouvel. Image © CSCEC LOUVRE ABU DHABI, Abu Dhabi, UAE (2007 – under construction) Architecture and image. Image Courtesy of Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Artefactory, TDIC, Louvre Abu Dhabi

Timelapse Captures 2.5 Year Transformation of Abu Dhabi and Dubai

Humanity’s ability to construct and change an urban landscape is incredible, but rarely do we get to see that interaction at full scale. Beno Saradzic’s "BEYOND: Memoirs in a Timelapse" captures just that. Taken from more than two years of footage from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, this film showcases hourly transformations wrought on some of the city’s most famous buildings, such as the Al Bahar Towers and Burj Khalifa.  

Heatherwick Tapped to Design “Sunken Oasis” in Abu Dhabi

Thomas Heatherwick has been commissioned to transform a 125,000 square meter park in the heart of Abu Dhabi into a multifunctional “sunken oasis.” Inspired by “fractured desert crust,” the park is designed as a series of fragmented canopies that rise to form a three-dimensional landscape across the site. Beneath the cracked surface will be a series of interconnected public spaces cooled by lush vegetation that provide organic produce to local restaurants and space for community gardens.

VIDEO: Jean Nouvel on Arabic Architecture, Context and Culture

In this powerful interview, Jean Nouvel explains his relationship to Arabic architecture. Discussing his various projects in Arabic countries - such as his office tower in Doha or the Louvre Abu Dhabi - Nouvel discusses how he is influenced by and integrates the abstraction and geometry of traditional Islamic architecture into his modern designs. He also espouses a strong opinion on the understanding of context in architecture, saying: "I'm a contextual architect, but for me the context isn't only the site. It's above all a wider historical context - a cultural context... each time, building is trying to continue a history, and to take part in this history." His architecture, he says, is about listening: "The architect is not meant to impose his own values or his own sensitivities on such general plans." Video via Louisiana.

Rosewood Abu Dhabi / Handel Architects

© Don Riddle © Don Riddle © Gerry O’Leary © Gerry O’Leary

Sowwah Square / Goettsch Partners

  • Architects: Goettsch Partners
  • Location: Al Maryah Island - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates
  • Design Team: Mubadala Real Estate & Infrastructure
  • Structural Engineering: Oger International; Thornton Tomasetti, Inc.
  • MEP Engineering: Oger International; Environmental Systems Design, Inc.
  • Main Contractor: Oger Abu Dhabi
  • Area: 529400.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2012
  • Photographs: Lester Ali, Mubadala Real Estate & Infrastructure, Michele Nastasi, Aerial Image

© Lester Ali © Mubadala Real Estate & Infrastructure © Mubadala Real Estate & Infrastructure © Mubadala Real Estate & Infrastructure

Sheikh Zayed Bridge / Zaha Hadid Architects

Becoming a destination in itself and potential catalyst in the future urban growth of Abu Dhabi, the Zaha Hadid designed Sheikh Zayed Bridge was conceived in a highly mobile society that requires a new route around the Gulf south shore, connecting the three Emirates together. Hufton+Crow shared with us their photos as they capture the many viewpoints of this sinusoidal waveform structure. A complete gallery of images after the break.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum / Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Courtesy of Ateliers Jean Nouvel
Courtesy of Ateliers Jean Nouvel

The Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum, designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel, aims at creating a welcoming world which associates lights and shadows as well as shimmers and calm places in a serene atmosphere. Its objective is to belong to its country, to its history, to its geography, avoiding being either a dull translation of this reality or a pleonasm meaning boredom and convention. It also aims at emphasizing the fascination generated by rare encounters. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi / HDR

  • Architects: HDR Architecture
  • Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Courtesy of HDR Architecture

Courtesy of HDR Architecture Courtesy of HDR Architecture Courtesy of HDR Architecture Courtesy of HDR Architecture