Foster + Partners wins CTBUH award for Dubai tower


The Index, a mixed use tower in Dubai designed  by Foster + Partners, has been judged the best new high-rise building in the Middle East and Africa by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH).

The 80-storey tower is the practice’s first building to be completed in Dubai and combines 520 luxury apartments with 25 floors of office space. The different functions are separated by a spectacular double-height, glazed sky lobby, with views over the city to the coast. At the tower’s base, a landscaped podium creates pedestrian routes through the site and incorporates a range of places to eat, shop and socialise.

Located on a prominent corner site within the Dubai International Finance Centre, the 326-metre-high tower, developed by Union Properties, is unusually offset against the urban grid, orientated east to west to maximise views of the desert and coastline. This orientation also reduces solar gain, as the building’s core mass absorbs heat and reduces its reliance on mechanical ventilation. A system of sunshades shelters the interiors on the exposed south elevation.


The tower’s distinctive form and slender profile reveal the building’s structural system and internal organisation. The floors are supported by four A-frame concrete ‘fins’ that taper as they rise. This provides flexible, column-free office accommodation, which can be arranged to provide a headquarters for a large corporation or subdivided to support multiple tenancies.

At the base of the scheme is a landscaped plinth, with sculpted pools of water and an underground car park, and the tower is entered through a dramatic four-storey foyer. The main lift cores, which serve the office floors, are located at the eastern and western edges of the tower.

A small central lift core, serving 40 levels of apartments, rises to the sky lobby and shops, restaurants, pool and health club. A local lift core then transports residents to individual apartments. The tower is crowned with 12 luxurious duplex and triplex penthouse apartments with spectacular views over Dubai.

Gerard Evenden, a design director at Foster + Partners, commented: “Our design for The Index had to fulfil many different needs: it had to be a great place to work, a great place to live, a landmark for the financial district and, perhaps most significantly, a sustainable high rise building that, despite Dubai’s hot climate, would consume less energy than a conventional tower. I’m delighted that the resulting building has been recognised by our peers with this important award.”

The CTBUH awards recognise excellence in the design and construction of tall buildings. Four regional awards are granted each year, and the overall winner will be announced at a ceremony in Chicago in October.

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