The Masdar Institute is the first part of the wider Masdar City masterplan to be realised and creates an educational focus for the entire programme.
The Institute embodies the principles and goals of Masdar to create a prototypical and sustainable city and is the first building of its kind to be powered entirely by renewable solar energy.
The design incorporates a variety of passive and active environmental strategies and will be used as a test-bed for the sustainable technologies that will be explored for implementation in future Masdar City buildings.
The Institute’s residences and laboratories are oriented to shade both the adjacent buildings and the pedestrian streets below and the facades are also self-shading. Over 5,000 square metres of roof-mounted photovoltaic installations provide power and further protection from the direct sun.
A 10-megawatt solar field within the masterplan site provides 60 per cent more energy than is consumed by the Masdar Institute, all of which can be fed back to the Abu Dhabi grid.
The campus will also use significantly less energy and water than average modern buildings in the UAE. Horizontal and vertical fins and brises soleil shade the laboratories, which have highly flexible ‘plug and play’ services to encourage interdisciplinary research.
The laboratory facades are formed from highly insulative inflatable ETFE cushions, which remain cool to the touch under the intense desert sun. Cooling air currents are directed through the public spaces using a contemporary interpretation of the region’s traditional wind towers, and green landscaping and water provide evaporative cooling.
The laboratories and residential accommodation are supported by a variety of social spaces, including a gymnasium, canteen, café, knowledge centre, majlis – or meeting place – and landscaped areas that extend the civic realm. One, two and three-bedroom apartments are housed in low-rise, high-density blocks, which provide a social counterpoint to the research environment.
Windows in the residential buildings are protected by a contemporary reinterpretation of mashrabiya, a type of latticed projecting oriel window, constructed with sustainably developed, glass-reinforced concrete and coloured with local sand to integrate with its desert context and to minimise maintenance.
The perforations for light and shade are based on the patterns found in the traditional architecture of Islam.
Location: Masdar City, United Arab Emerits
Architects: Foster + Partners
Structural Engineer: Adams Kara Taylor
M+E Engineer: PHA Consult
Consultants: Gillespies, Claude Engle Lighting Design, Acentech, Arup, decarbon8, Lerch Bates, Mott MacDonald, RFD, RW Armstrong, RWDI, Sandy Brown, Systematica, WS Atkins
Area: 4 000 m2
Client: Mubadala Development Company
Photographs: Courtesy of Foster + Partners
“One of the world’s most sustainable communities for technology, Masdar City is an emerging global hub for knowledge, business, research and development. Located 17km from downtown Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Masdar City positions companies located here at the heart of this global industry.
A high density, pedestrian-friendly, sustainable development, Masdar City not only embodies Abu Dhabi’s commitment to a sustainable future but it is also pioneering best practices in sustainable urban planning, design, development and operation. As such, it is a model for sustainable urban development regionally and globally, as it delivers the highest quality living and working environment with the lowest possible ecological footprint, all in a commercially viable development.” Description from Masdar City.