Oliver Ephgrave visits Woods Bagot’s International Tower, a newly completed commercial building in Abu Dhabi’s Capital Centre.
With its rectilinear plan and absence of curves, twists and roof-top ornaments, International Tower seems like a rather ordinary commercial tower from a distance. Yet when the measured vertical rhythms on the facades come into view, it’s apparent that the building was carefully conceived and delivered.
Developed by Sino Gulf and designed by Woods Bagot, the building is the first office complex to be launched in ADNEC’s huge Capital Centre which adjoins the exhibition centre. The ‘international’ moniker was chosen for a very good reason, according to SinoGulf’s fund manager, David Cockerton.
Standing in the airy triple-height lobby, Cockerton remarks: “Most people that come here haven’t seen anything quite like this in Abu Dhabi. A lot of the global occupiers arrive and say ‘this is exactly what I see around the world’. That was precisely what we were aiming for in terms of the concept.
“What we wanted was a very sensible, regular, flexible Grade-A commercial building that global occupiers can recognise. It doesn’t have lots of architectural attributes like curves and little corners that you can’t use.”
He continues: “I’d call it a smart and sensible building. A global occupier can come in without any real issues. There aren’t lots of columns, so they can roll out the normal fit-out that they have all around the world. That’s pretty powerful.”
Woods Bagot principal Karim Benkirane, who was also present on the tour, adds: “I think the name International Tower has a fantastic synergy with the design brief. The way they procured the design team was in an international competition. They were trying to replicate an international brand and standard here.”
When it comes to the lobby space, Benkirane remarks: “We created a ceremonial entrance which needs to align with the businesses that are going to be here. The finishes needed to align with that design aspiration.”
According to Benkirane, the finishes include black glass, timber veneer, a ceiling which utilises the same language as the external fins, as well as stainless steel mullions and limestone flooring. “It’s fairly magnificent,” adds Cockerton.
Benkirane continues: “Taking on the international standards also meant that the building has to be commercially viable. Net to gross was incredibly important to the client. This was helped by placing the core on the eastern side of the building, which allows a continuous floor plate.
“Another benefit was that the side core eliminates the eastern aspect of the building, which is one of the harsher solar orientations, to help reduce energy consumption.