Case Study: Masdar Institute


The Masdar Institute, established in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, is the first development in Abu Dhabi’s eco-driven Masdar City, by Aldar. Masdar Institute is being developed in phases, with a total planned area of 343,740m2.

Construction of the six buildings in Phase 1A commenced in 2007 and was completed in September 2010. Expansion of the existing campus under Phase 1B started in January last year, and is scheduled for completion in Q3 2012, covering 86,138m2.

The site

Located in the centre of the development, Masdar Institute is described as “very important and very key” by Khaled Ballaith, senior project manager of property development unit. RW Armstrong is the lead consultant and architect of record while Foster + Partners is listed as designer.

Yousef Baselaib, director of Masdar City operations, explains that the urban architecture and smart city features of MI campus “serve as a microcosm of the fabric of the city as a whole.” It therefore provides tangible benchmarks for the entire project.

The concept Phase 1B continues the development of a research hub for clean technology. “We are building Masdar City as a commercially viable role model for the rest of the world; it is an innovation centre, an R&D hub and a clean technology cluster,” says Ballaith. The latest phase contains 222 one-bedroom apartments and a separate section for female students, additional laboratory spaces, an imaging suite and a multi-use hall “supported by concrete columns that looks like a spaceship from a distance,” adds Ballaith.

The details The building height and orientation aims to minimise solar heat gain and the creation of ‘shade routes’ encourages pedestrian activity at street level. Colonnades have been incorporated into all MI buildings, which are cooled by high thermal mass materials being applied to soffits, walls and ceilings.

Buildings in Masdar contain low-energy lighting specifications, low-flow water fixtures and roof-mounted evacuated tube solar thermal collectors for domestic hot water. Wood comes from sustainable forests, almost 95% aluminum is recycled, and concrete contains 40-60% less embodied carbon.

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