The wasl Tower is a benchmark 302 meter super-high-rise structure in a pivotal Dubai location. Set for completion in 2020, the wasl Tower will have one of the world’s tallest ceramic facades and will be a regional touchstone for adaptability and sustainability. Its capacity to acclimatize to local air temperatures through shading and cooling techniques sets this building apart within the hot desert climate. Its design aesthetic and ”contrapposto’ structure revolves around ‘Figures in Motion’ and references the inter-connectivity of Dubai’s complex and thorough infrastructure. The adaptable, multipurpose addition to Dubai’s skyline reflects mobility, establishes sustainability and provides opportunity.
The location of this standout tower is strategic, in an exceptionally central position, framed by Dubai;s famous Burj Khalifa and the new city walk development. The tower acts as the point of convergence between those two key Dubai locations, attracting people from every side.
Within Dubai;s impressive infrastructure, the tower is located along Sheikh Zayed Road, which connects Emirates North to South. When approaching downtown Dubai from the international airport, the wasl Tower mirrors the Burj Khalifa on the other side of the ‘SZR’, where there as yet no other high-rise buildings. To connect the two areas, a pedestrian bridge links the wasl Tower to Burj Khalifa metro station. Reflecting the diversity of Dubai’s metropolitan activity, the building is programmed for mixed-use, with central public areas located high up in the building.
The wasl Tower has one of the world’s tallest ceramic facades, cloaked with gentle ceramic features. Clay was chosen as a fundamental material for the facade, while additional fins are also manufactured from ceramic materials. This fine lace of fins over the basic skin literally veils the geometry. These fins not only shade the facade, but also reflect daylight deep into the tower’s interior. The direction of the fins (12.8 degrees), as well as the dimensions and materialization, have all been developed using parametric data from the design model. This holistic facade is decorated with autonomously generated light patterns that breath with the rhythm of the city.
The scale, lighting, design and engineering of the inner and the outdoor spaces took inspiration from the sustainable protocol, “Good for the People, Good for the Environment”. Smart communication, security and access strategies provide a seamless technological foundation on which this sustainable pledge was integrated in the building.
“As the project strongly related to and interconnects with Dubai’s urban experience, the aim is to make a visit to the Wasl Tower as attractive and contemporary as possible, As such a dedicated concept of health, comfort and well-being throughout was developed for the building.” The design pays special attention to the quality of interior spaces as well, using clean materials, interactive light levels, and good acoustics throughout, particularly on the public levels where food services will add to the experience”.
The open seam that runs the full height of the tower forms a ‘vertical boulevard’ which is topped by infinity pools on the tower roof. This seam is created by a stacking of outdoor balconies, forming a green vein along the buildings silhouette, and allowing a glimpse of the interior. This boulevard connects the outdoor with the indoor, which is a unique feature for this region. Clean materials, interactive light levels, and deliberated acoustics are implemented in all spaces throughout the building, with a particular focus on public levels, where culinary experience, hosting and aesthetics come together to heighten visitor experiences.
Wasl Tower from UNStudio on Vimeo.
Concept and Design
Structure: Designed around its Z-axis and adopting a classic ‘contrapposto’ movement, the wasl Tower faces almost every direction. The geometry of the tower achieved its holistic appearance by means of innovative parametric design and high-tech engineering. Every part of the design is connected by itself and its counterparts. The mixed-use programme, comprising offices, guest rooms, public areas and apartments, presented a challenging core configuration. A smart structural concept – three 300m high sheer walls in the core that connect 4 large outriggers in strategic levels – gives the tower an almost free, highly efficient, floor-plate while maintaining movement at the top.
Light and Shade: By day, the ceramic elements of the facade creates a natural cooling system through heat loss and shading techniques. By night, the facade lighting, designed by Arup, is housed behind ceramic fins and is programmed to breathe with the rhythm of this 24-hour metropolis while providing a visual connection to the city. This lighting system is powered by energy cube pv panels located on the car park building. The light installation continues into the interior of both the ground floor and the sky lobby, where is becomes more solid.
Vertical Transport Strategy: A vertical transport strategy is implemented to facilitate separate access to the various programmes. The high-speed express lifts connect the four main lobbies (ground/spa /sky and rooftop) which contain most of the public programme and the main access for the hotel (at 150 meters). Four office and four guestroom lifts share the same lift shaft, while the residential apartments on the higher levels have their own designated lift-group, making direct access via the basement parking possible. In total the building provides 17 lifts, of which 5 are service elevators.
Article text via UNStudio
Architects: UNStudio, Werner Sobek Group
Location: Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Architect in Charge: Ben van Berkel
Architect of Record: U+A Architects
Structural Engineer: Werner Sobek
Facade Engineering: Werner Sobek
Sustainability: Werner Sobek Green Technologies
Acoustic Engineering: Werner Sobek Green Technologies
MEP Engineering: Werner Sobek
Interior Design Hotel: GA Design
Interior Design F&B: AB Concept
Landscape Architect: Green4Cities
Client: Wasl LLC Asset Management Group
Operator: Mandarin Oriental Hospitality Group
Project Year: 2020