Sunday, September 20, 2009

Masdar Eco City Center by LAVA

German-Australian practice Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA) recently won the first prize in the Masdar Eco City Center Competition for Masdar, United Arab Emirates.

LAVA already succeeded in the first stage of the competition earlier this year, and collaborated with Kann Finch Group, Arup, Transsolar, and a team of international experts for the second stage challenge.

This is how LAVA explains its concept for ‘Masdar Plaza, The Oasis of the Future’:

The City of the Future

The future well being of cities around the globe depends on mankind’s ability to develop and integrate sustainable technology.

Masdar City is the city of the future; positioned at the forefront of integrating sustainable technology into modern architectural design. Rome, Athens, Florence; most great historical cities have had the plaza, forum, or square at their epicenter – where the life, values, ideals, and vision of the population evolved. Equally, the center of Masdar must be an iconic beacon that attracts global attention to sustainable technology.

Perspective Plaza Day (Image: MIR)

Perspective Plaza Evening (Image: MIR)

Perspective Plaza Night (Image: MIR)

Oasis of the Future

We see Masdar Plaza as “The Oasis of the Future”: a living, breathing, active, adaptive environment; stimulated by the social interaction of people, and spotlighting the use and benefits of sustainable technology.

Bird’s View Masdar (Image: Simon)

Hence, our design proposal focuses on the delivery of three key issues:

1.Performance – to demonstrate the use and benefits of sustainable technology in a modern, dynamic, iconic architectural environment.
2.Activation – to activate or operate the sustainable technology in accordance with the functional needs of this environment, 24 hours a day, and 365 days of the year.
3.Interaction – to encourage and stimulate a social dynamic where the life, values, ideals, and vision of the population of Masdar evolve.
The “Oasis of the Future” is conceived as an open spatial experience, whereby all features; whether hotel, conference, shopping, or leisure, offer the highest quality of indoor and outdoor comfort and interaction.

Bird’s View Masdar Plaza Day, Open Umbrellas (Image: Simon)

As in the case of an oasis, the Plaza is the social epicenter of Masdar; opening 24-hour access to all public facilities. Interactive, heat sensitive technology activates low intensity lighting in response to pedestrian traffic and mobile phone usage. The Plaza is able to change into an outdoor cinema for international events and national celebrations.

Buildings’ surrounding the Plaza form gorges, evoking mystical comparisons with the Grand Canyon and the entrance to Petra.

Bird’s View Masdar Plaza Day, Open Umbrellas (Image: Simon)

The “Oasis of the Future” demonstrates sustainable technology in a user-friendly architectural environment – flexible use of space, outdoor and indoor comfort, and optimum performance.

The user experience is the heart of the “Oasis of the Future”.

By analyzing the potential pedestrian flows throughout the Plaza and surrounding facilities, the design seeks to accentuate this ‘loop’ of indoor and outdoor user-experiences This ‘loop’ marries the lowest possible energy expenditure to the highest levels of user comfort in correlation to pedestrian flows.

Close up Umbrellas (Image: LAVA)


The following environmental and engineering design concepts will be utilized to minimize energy consumption:

■Radiant surfaces
■Air movement that supplements natural wind patterns
■Evaporating cooling mist
■Thermal mass and PCM
■Slab cooling and Luna Panels
■Shading of external facades surrounding the Plaza
Our sustainable design and engineering philosophy balances the ‘vision of the future’ with ‘scientific fact and availability’. Our aim is to provide the Abu Dhabi Energy Company with the lowest possible carbon footprint, whilst maintaining the highest level of user experience within the practical viability of affordable architecture.

Bird’s View Masdar Plaza Night, Closed Umbrellas (Image: Simon)

Our engineering specialists have analyzed each component of potential energy expenditure and investigated individual efficiencies in order to reduce the carbon footprint. Even the façade of the buildings surrounding the Plaza will incorporate long-life, loose-fit structural design to enable flexible future planning and reconfiguration opportunities.

Switching and sensors will activate and deactivate features and functions in correlation with usage and pedestrian flow.

All front and back of house functions within the Hotel and Convention Center will capture sustainability of water, waste, materials, indoor and outdoor environmental quality.

Bird’s View Masdar Plaza Night, Closed Umbrellas, LED lights on the Plaza (Image: Simon)

In fact, our proposal strives to exceed those of the Masterplan and is, in addition, benchmarked against Estidama and LEED (Platinum). Adaptive cooling provides all facilities with extended usability during peak heat loads.

Our ‘Petals from Heaven’ feature interactive umbrellas that open, provide shade, and capture energy during daylight hours; folding at night to release stored heat.

Solar analysis provides insight into the tuning of facades in order to incorporate an ability to respond to varying sun angles and levels of solar intensity.

Perspective Hotel (Image: Simon)

The Oasis of the Future is a living, breathing habitat. The ability to control ambient temperature at all times of the day is the key to making the Plaza a compulsive destination. The gorges pull inhabitants into the loop. The ‘Petals from Heaven’ open and close; protect pedestrians from the sun; capture, store, and release heat; adjust the angle of shade based on the position of the sun. The heat sensitive lamps adjust the level of lighting to the proximity of pedestrians. The water features ebb and flow based on the intensity of ground temperatures.

The promenades lure pedestrians into the shopping and leisure facilities. Similarly, the public are seduced into the Plaza during cooler night hours and cooler months of the year.


Our 5 Star Hotel is organized efficiently around a ‘Central Canyon’ and is linked to the Extended Stay Facilities via a ‘gorge’ housing Retail premises. The Central Canyon is a day-lit space deep within the building, connecting the hotel’s restaurants and ballrooms to the guest amenities.

The hotel’s entrance and lobby, located at the base of the atrium, offers guests an immediate view out onto the Plaza in one direction and the green of the park in another.

Perspective Masdar Hotel Lobby (Image: LAVA)

Perspective Masdar Hotel (Image: LAVA)

Convention Center

The western edge of the Plaza rises to create the Convention Center forecourt and ascends as a continuous path into the Lobby area. Our design of the Convention Center Lobby resembles an enormous, light-soaked cavern, providing an enclosure for the conference facilities with the Plaza framed in the background.

Section Through Plaza, Hotel and Convention Center. Climatic Diagram (Image: LAVA)

The awe-inspiring ‘erosion-effect’ design of the façade that flows across this edge of the Plaza is complemented by water features and also houses the sub-podium PRT and Retail concessions.

This spectacular conference facility, with its gigantic cavern atmosphere, will leave a lasting impression on all visitors.

Transition from Buildings to Plaza (Image: LAVA)

Masdar Plaza, The Oasis of the Future’ will create an iconic venue within a truly visionary city.

‘Masdar Plaza, The Oasis of the Future’ incorporates the highest level of knowledge and expertise in science, technology, and construction methodology, globally. It is an intellectual balance between iconic architectural identity, cutting edge sustainable design and technology.

Perspective Section Through Plaza, Hotel and Convention Center. Sustainability (Image: LAVA)


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