Za’abeel Park has been designed to showcase Dubai’s status as a regional center for the development of high-technology and IT industries through a unique mix of educational and recreational facilities. The development of these facilities within a large scale garden-park setting has created a multi-faceted urban space within the city center for both residents and visitors alike. This urban idea is fundamental to the “new face of Dubai” and the future development of the city within an international context. Within this spirit, the proposed “Emblem” tower for Za’abeel Park should be expressive of the confluence of these regional ideas, energy, and culture which define the modern city with an underlying emotional reference to a more universal iconography.
The tower site within Za’abeel Park is open to the vast central lake, city views to the northwest and vulnerable to harsh daytime sun exposures,unpredictable evening south easterly winds that carry sand and dust and the noise and air quality issues associated with the perimeter roads to the east and west. The prevailing light to moderate northwesterly winds vary in intensity throughout the year and can bring seasonal sustained winds, or “Shamal” that impact the city. It is essential that the tower form should respond to these complex environmental site conditions in the spirit of the park’s technological theme and promotion of alternative energies.
We have taken a lyrical point of reference and constructed a narrative to tell the story of this tower’s origin. A familiar image found perhaps in a romantic view of the desert is of a solitary figure on the horizon cloaked in an translucent cloth billowing in the desert wind (Fig.01). This wind-shaped undulating form whose image is made kinetic in light, suggests an architectural expression that responds to the complex environmental conditions of the site as well as the less tangible emotion and spirit of the city. Our tower is conceived as a free-form sculptural surface billowing in the park landscape, an instrument of light in the city skyline.
The proposed tower is formed by manipulating a uniform flat surface into a free formed u-shaped profile around a central core to create a protective shell to claim and then protect an interior space or “espace calme”, from specific environmental factors, both solar and wind that impact the site (Fig.02). The resulting abstracted airfoil shape opens up to the northwest and establishes a direct spatial dialogue with the park landscape and city skyline. The smooth shell is then modeled to create an undulating “wind-formed” surface with dramatically contoured billowing edges. Ultimately, the tower silhouette is one that is continually being redefined by the changing lighting conditions and shading effect of the sun’s movement across the site. This constant state of re-making gives the tower a kinetic image in the skyline that is both organic and expressive of a technologically spirited architecture in support of the Park’s theme. At night, the tower is dramatically transformed with a façade integrated internal LED lighting grid to create the effect of a luminous surface billowing in the night sky. This tower of “Ambient Light” is a provocative new symbol for Dubai.
Location: Za’abeel Park, Dubai, United Arab Emirates Architect: Zerafa Architecture Studio Joint Venture Architect: Gregory T Waugh, AIA Design Team: Jason Zerafa, Joaquin Boldrini, Pablo Zamorano, Luis E. Carmona, Katherine Moya Structural Consultant: Gilsanz Murray Steficek LLPStructural Design Team: Ramon Gilsanz, Jessica Mandrick Mechanical Consultant: Consentini Mechanical Design Team: Mike Maybaum, David Leo Client: Dubai Municipality Facility: Tall Emblem Structure, Observation Tower, Childrens Library, Giftshop Size: 7238 sm Status: International Competition Proposal