French firm Vincent Callebaut Architectures (VCA) has unveiled a new multi-use complex for Nasr City in Cairo. Designed to obtain LEED Gold Plus standing, the building features a solar roof, green terraces, sky villas, and a vertical system of gardens and solar heating tubes. Composed of 1000 apartment units, the Gate Residence is also designed to include a health club and spa, fitness center, business center, restaurants and cafe, retail, and medical center.
A central street, dubbed the Boulevard, forms the spine of the building. Apartment units are arranged as U-shaped rectangular buildings branching off the Boulevard. These U-shapes are softened by various facade typologies, depending on function. The housing levels are surfaced by stacked layers of e-low glass and polished white stone, punctuated by suspended garden balconies, while the commercial levels have two different facades.
Along the Promenade, Back Street and Nozha Street, a transparent curtain wall juxtaposed by green walls at main entrances for shopping centers and apartment lobbies. In more private areas, a voronoï screen, inspired by coral reef structure, demarcates the patio areas and the inner street between offices and housing. This screen allows climbing plants to grow along its structure and provide further privacy.
The entire roof is conceived of as a community garden with food gardens, orchards, infinity pools, and a sports area. The two plots of the complex are connected via sky bridges. Aiming to limit its own carbon footprint, the building recycles part of generated waste as grey water, while a system of mesh surface and second skin of white steel and cables integrates photovoltaic cells, thermal tubes, and vertical gardens. In effect, the roof surface curves down and inward to transform into "Megatrees," allowing natural ventilation throughout the levels and providing shade and protection from sound.
Inspired by the technology of wind catching towers, or Malqaf, originally developed in Ancient Egypt, the architects designed the structural Megatrees to function as passive cooling systems. A Canadian well, passing fresh air through underground pipes before entering a building, allows for geothermal climate control. Integrated air shafts along the cores will provide natural ventilation and hot water to each apartment, while walkable photovoltaic cells using UV radiation will cover the solar roof to generate much of the building's energy.
Solar water heating and vertical axis wind turbines also contribute towards in-situ energy generation. The designers have proposed a unique system called the Phylolight, merging urban street light and vertical wind turbines within a single instrument. In addition, living walls within the megatrees and along the inner street allow for temperature reduction and greywater purification through natural technologies suitable for Cairo's arid climate.
Construction is expected to begin March 2015, with completion slated for 2019.
LocationNasr City, Cairo Governorate, Egypt
Local ArchitectK&A Design, Injaz Development
VCA's TeamAgnes Martin, Jiaoyang Huang, Fabrice Zaini, Maguy Delrieu, Vincent Callebaut
ClientAbraj Misr, Urban Development, Cairo, Egypt