Eco tower for Abu Dhabi

This sustainable tower for Abu Dhabi was designed as part of a Masters course at the University of Nottingham’s Department of Architecture and Built Environment.

Each year the studio promotes high-rise designs that respond to the climate, culture and context of the city, tasking students to generate new ideas and concept to push the typology.

The project, called the Vertical Oasis, was created by students Aaron Marriott and Clarissa Wenborn. As suggested by the name, the project aimed to recreate the oasis environment at height for a site on the Abu Dhabi Corniche, adjacent to the ADIA Tower.


The concept

The students’ design was a response to the lack of potable water in the UAE, and the reliance on desalination. To solve this, inspiration was drawn from the oasis – a traditional source of life for the region providing settlement, water, trade and shade from the harsh arid sun.

The design consists of a series of stacked ‘oasis villages’ shaded by an outer perforated facade which wraps around the building like a veil. Each village includes its own green community space, irrigated by an extensive water recycling system.

The details

Grey water from showers, hand basins, kitchen sinks and dishwashers is fed to the oasis space. Here it is cleaned through a series of filters within the floor plate and then passed through the open planting area where it is further filtered by a fine gravel whilst simultaneously irrigating the plants.

Surplus water cascades down the building, through the various inter-connected oasis levels and is collected in a basement tank. Rather than hiding the grey water recycling, the whole process is exposed and celebrated as a key part of the architecture and experience of the building.

Internally the lush planting and water recreate the environmental benefits of the ‘oasis effect’ – warm air enters the building and is cooled by the exposed water, while greenery provides additional shade. The oases create a continuous eco-corridor up the building and act as a home for birds and insects.

The density of openings in the facade is designed to provide more shade on the ‘hot’ sides of the tower, with more openings to the north and where areas with good views. Openings are also reduced for bedrooms and other private spaces, providing a degree of privacy to the occupants.

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