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Setting new standards in sustainability

by Selina Denman on Oct 11, 2010


An artist's impression of how the finished Sowwah Island development in Abu Dhabi may look.
An artist's impression of how the finished Sowwah Island development in Abu Dhabi may look.

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Sowwah Square will set the bar for sustainable design in Abu Dhabi, according to Abdulla Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi, senior architect at Mubadala Real Estate and Hospitality, the company behind the development.

Sowwah Square lies at the heart of Sowwah Island, one of Abu Dhabi’s largest ongoing projects, and will be the first integrated development in the UAE capital to achieve LEED Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Core and Shell Gold (LEED-CS) pre-certification, Al Shamsi explained. “Sowwah Square’s design achieved points across all categories of LEED-CS criteria, including site sustainability, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design process,” he detailed.


Sowwah Square was designed as a sustainable urban environment that encourages alternative means of transport, actively promotes recycling of the island’s waste and consumable resources, minimises water usage and utilises innovative architectural and landscape design to reduce energy demands.

“Breezeways will be incorporated into the master plan to maximise the cooling effects of the wind, while hard landscaping will be designed to minimise the heat transfer effect in adjacent buildings,” Al Shamsi said.

“Landscaping will feature extensive, drought-resistant indigenous planting, also designed to minimise water consumption, provide shade and reduce the solar gain in buildings,” he added.

“Photovoltaic panels will be integrated into structures to capture and store solar energy, while double-skin facades will create insulating air cavities and sun shades to reduce air-conditioning usage. Natural light will feature as much as possible throughout the island’s structures to further reduce energy consumption.”

Sowwah Island will have its own metro and light rail systems, which will reduce the island’s vehicular traffic. The development of pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, in the form of a network of climate-controlled pedestrian passageways, as well as cycling networks, is another priority.

Covering 450,000m², Sowwah Square will offer a mix of office, hotel and retail space, and is already in advanced stages of construction. A total 180,000m² of commercial space will be spread across four towers, which will also be home to the new headquarters of the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange. The towers will answer demand for high quality, fully-functional, sustainable office space, Al Shamsi explained.

Column free, efficient floor plates have been designed to the highest specification, with marble, granite, onyx and stainless steel finishes. “Sowwah Square will offer Abu Dhabi’s top-tier commercial and financial institutions the most efficient, flexible and sustainable office accommodation in the core of Abu Dhabi’s new Central Business District,” he concluded.


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