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Mashrabiya - inspired modules to keep Al Bahr Towers in Abu Dhabi cool.

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  • Navroz
    Mashrabiya - inspired modules to keep Al Bahr Towers in Abu Dhabi cool. 2000 automated, dynamic Umbrella-like modules inspired by an Arabic Feature Mashrebiya,
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 10, 2013
      Mashrabiya - inspired modules to keep Al Bahr Towers in Abu Dhabi cool.

      2000 automated, dynamic Umbrella-like modules inspired by an Arabic
      Feature Mashrebiya, will vary the shade to keep Al Bahr Towers in Abu
      Dhabi cool.

      Read the full article and see the pics at

      Modernizing the mashrabiya: Smart-skinned Al Bahar Towers near completion

      Glass-skinned steel-frame skyscrapers have many advantages. They're
      relatively quick, inexpensive and easy to build and require
      comparatively few materials. But they pose problems; heat not least
      among them. Buildings with fully glazed facades are essentially
      greenhouses, so when the sun comes out, they can get uncomfortably
      hot. The problem that is more acute in hot climates like that of the
      United Arab Emirates, where, despite this fact, the appetite for
      glassy high-rise continues to be voracious. For its design of Al Bahr
      Towers in Abu Dhabi, Aedas has developed a unique intelligent skin,
      inspired by the traditional Arabic mashrabiya, that it claims reduces
      interior heat gains caused by sunlight by around 50 percent.

      Any hot country that has seen more than a few centuries of
      civilization tends to have already solved the problem of hot
      buildings. An old Mediterranean or Arabic house, for example, will
      typically be built with thick, heavy walls of adobe, clay or stone
      which, having cooled overnight, draw heat from the interior over the
      course of the day. Windows are few, small, and often shuttered to
      minimize and control incoming heat. It's logical, then, that Aedas has
      looked to the past for clues to heat management of its 145-m (475-ft)
      towers. They may not be built from adobe, but an intelligent outer
      skin has apparently been "informed" by a familiar feature of Islamic
      architecture: the mashrabiya.

      Mashrabiyas are the wooden lattice screens, carved to some geometric
      design, that have filled the windows of traditional Arabic
      architecture (and particularly houses) since the 14th century. Often
      placed on the street-side of dwellings, mashrabiyas offered protection
      from eyes as well as the sun. In his excellent essay on mashrabiyas,
      freelance scribe and photographer John Feeney writes that, as well as
      offering privacy and shade, mashrabiyas actually encourage the flow of
      air, helping to cool water stored in clay pots thanks to their porous
      "sweating surfaces." Clever things.

      The outer skins of Al Bahr Towers are actually simpler than the
      mashrabiyas from which they draw inspiration – at least in the sense
      that they serve a single purpose: shade. But whereas traditional
      mashrabiyas are passive, Aedas' modern interpretation adapts according
      to the sun's position. The skin is made up of 2,000 umbrella-like
      modules per tower which open and close to vary the amount of shade at
      that point according to the time of day. The umbrellas are automated,
      controlled by the building management system – something akin to a
      central nervous system that allows a building's various systems to
      work with each other rather than against.

      The advantage of this approach, according to Aedas, is the avoidance
      of dark tinted glass which inevitably restricts all incoming light all
      of the time, and not merely the problematic direct sunlight at certain
      times of day. Instead, these dynamic shades let daylight in for part
      of the day allowing the use of artificial lighting to the interior can
      be reduced. However, the energy saving from the reduced need for air
      conditioning is likely to be at least as significant, if Aedas'
      predicted reduction in solar gain is accurate.

      What's rather nice about these modern mashrabiyas is that at various
      degrees of openness, they take on different geometric patterns from
      tessellating hexagons to spaced out alternately-facing three-pointed

      Combined, the towers will contain about 70,000 sq m (753,000 sq ft) of
      office space. The slightly bulging form of the towers is reminiscent
      of London's Gherkin, albeit with the tapering pinnacle sliced off. But
      the partial covering of mashrabiyas, which almost resemble barnacles,
      give the towers an identity of their own. Aedas tells Gizmag that Al
      Bahr Towers are now nearing completion.
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