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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Emerald Plaza, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

A contemporary "square" linking buildings and people in extreme hot climates
The Emerald Plaza project for the city of Abu Dhabi deals with the problem of urban space in a very hot environment in artificial, context-less developments in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Emergent Architecture’s Emerald Plaza design aims to create continuity between the three key elements specified in the brief: a garden, a central sculptural volume, and a network of canopies. At the macro scale, the project is a linking element between three high-rise buildings design by others. Ispired by the souks of Northern Africa as a model for creating interiority and passive cooling as an alternative to open, western public spaces, the canopies merge into a landscaped roof which provides shade for walkways below. This roof also connects the perimeter high-rise buildings together, creating a bi-level entryway into each.

In an environment where people often avoid the outdoors during daytime hours, this project offers a spatial and atmospheric solution; pools in the plaza underneath the roof have a cooling effect, both evaporative and psychological. During the day, when temperatures can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit, this involuted, grotto-like space becomes an inviting sanctuary.

Emergent’s investigation into surface-to-strand geometries lead to the conclusion that hybrid, transformative geometries offer a wider range of flexibility than surface, strand, or volume systems alone. Following this principle the surface of the roof transforms into a volume at the center of the plaza. The resulting space becomes a conference and media center, available to all three buildings.

Laura Salmi
architecture NOW

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