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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Masdar Eco City Centre, Masdar, United Arab Emirates

LAVA use solar shading umbrellas in Eco City centre
Giant umbrellas, with a design based on the principles of sunflowers, will provide moveable shade in the day, store heat, then close and release the heat at night in the plaza of a new eco-city in the United Arab Emirates.

The ‘sunflower umbrellas’ are one aspect of the winning design by the international practice Laboratory for Visionary Architecture [LAVA] for the city centre for Masdar in the UAE - the world’s first zero carbon, zero waste city powered entirely by renewable energy sources.

Masdar is a planned city located 17 kilometres from Abu Dhabi. A government initiative, the city is being constructed over seven phases and is due to be completed by 2016.

The design for the city centre, now revealed, includes a plaza, five-star hotel, long stay hotel, a convention centre and entertainment complex and retail facilities. LAVA, a firm of just two years standing, won the design in an international competition against several hundred entries and strong competition from some of the world’s most high profile architects. Founder Chris Bosse said: "Masdar City is the world’s most prestigious project focusing on sustainable energy design. It is the city of the future and a global benchmark for sustainable urban development. We believe in the Masdar slogan 'One day all cities will be like this'".

The solar powered ‘sunflower’ umbrellas capture the sun’s rays during the day, fold at night releasing the stored heat, and open again the next day. They follow the projection of the sun to provide continuous shade during the day and can be used anywhere in the world including deserts said Bosse.

Masdar City will be a showcase in all things sustainable and some exciting elements include a magnetic public transport system which includes individual pods that drive you to your destination using solar power, sustaining the city's car-free policy; Building fa├žades which can be angled to offset or optimise solar glare; Materials on wall surfaces which respond to changing temperatures and contain minimal embedded energy; Water features that can be stored underground during the day and at night trickle or flow strongly, triggered by passersby; Interactive light poles, inspired by the oasis fire, that transform the plaza into a 3-dimensional interactive media installation; Interactive, heat sensitive technology that activates lighting in response to pedestrian traffic and mobile phone usage; and Roof gardens that integrate food production, energy generation, water efficiency and the reuse of organic food waste.

East and west are fused in the plaza design inspired by both the oasis, as the epicenter of Arabic nomadic life, and the iconic piazza of historical European cities. The organic forms created by the forces of natural erosion in geographical landmarks such as great canyons and wadis are the design inspiration behind the key buildings in the city centre.

After winning stage 1 in January this year, LAVA teamed up with the Sydney/Dubai based Kann Finch group, engineering firm Arup (with whom Chris Bosse previously worked on the Watercube in Beijing), Transsolar (worlds leading energy consultancy), and a team of international experts.
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