Case study: TRA Headquarters

In December 2007, the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) commissioned architect HDR to design its headquarters for both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Located in a neighbourhood of low rise residential and cultural buildings, TRA’s Dubai headquarters will stand out as a modern icon.

Looking to attain LEED Silver Rating, the facility will be officially opened by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, in October 2011. Meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi HQ is currently under construction and will be completed next year.

The Dubai building provides a flexible space to allow project teams to change and adapt their working groups. Informal and formal gathering areas encourage communication both internally and externally and the scheme includes a state-of-the-art training facility.

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The concept The facility’s skin is a ‘wrap’ inspired by the kandura, the traditional white Arab robe, and gives the impression of a continuous surface that moves around the perimeter and culminates at the roof. Like a robe, the wrap envelops the volume of the building without touching the ground. The lobby is located between the ‘folds’ of the wrap.

Taking cues from the vernacular – particularly the use of shaded interior courtyards – the design separates the building cores and pulls them to the perimeter to create one large collaborative and flexible interior space.

The building is orientated so the mass of the cores blocks the harsh western and eastern sun while still permitting light to penetrate the external skin. The ground floor contains a spacious lobby, while the office floors ‘float’ above. A glass atrium penetrates the deep open floor plan while operable windows in the atrium will allow natural ventilation.

The details The external skin is a combination of transparent and translucent energy efficient glass, which provides insulation from the harsh sun while admitting light where necessary. Each façade is ‘solar tuned’ to respond to its specific micro climate and orientation.

In addition to the building’s careful orientation, other sustainability measures include photovoltaics, an energy efficient HVAC system involving heat recovery, a plumbing system that includes re-using grey water and a storm water cistern to collect water for irrigation.

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