Case Study: Abu Dhabi Investment Council HQ

Sustainability lies at the heart of the Investment Council's new home

Abu Dhabi Investment Council HQ.
Abu Dhabi Investment Council HQ.

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Client: Abu Dhabi Investment Council

Designer: Aedas Architects

The aim of the design was to produce a landmark building for Abu Dhabi, the first project on a large site on the emirate’s coast. Aedas won the contract to develop the site after an international competition.

Their design will provide 350,000ft2 of office accommodation in two 25-storey towers, which are joined at the base by an entrance podium. Facilities include cafes, a lecture theatre and prayer rooms for the building’s estimated 2,000 office workers. Aedas expects to finish work on the site in 2011.

The 11,500m2 site near Al Qurum beach and adjacent to Abu Dhabi’s mangrove swamps has been set aside for development by the government. The Aedas site, near Abu Dhabi’s eastern ring road, is made up of two adjacent plots of land that ADIC hope will serve as a gateway to the city.


The AIDC building is immediately notable for its green credentials, and both the developers and architects hope that it will attract a Leed silver rating. The project includes utilises sustainable techniques, including a state-of-the-art computer operated shading system. The designers have also strived to fuse Islamic architecture with the modern design, basing the entire structure of the building on a mixture of two-dimensional circles and three dimensional spheres. The entire structure is designed to reflect a single geometric theme.

"Our concept for the Abu Dhabi Investment Council headquarters was generated from a mathematically pre-rationalised form which was in turn derived from Islamic principles,” said Aedas deputy chairman Peter Oborn. “It’s a thoroughly modern building rooted in tradition.”


Both towers are covered from top to bottom with a ‘mashrabiya’ screen, which opens and closes in response to the position of the sun. The Mashrabiya comprises over 1,000 translucent moving elements on each tower and is controlled by specially designed computer software. It will reduce solar gain by an estimated 20%, and provide 80% to 90% of the shading on the building.

Orborn said that despite the apparent complexity of the mashrabiya, it is actually relatively simple to produce. “The reality is that in terms of design, construction and implementation it really isn’t that complicated,” he said. “There is a premium to be paid, of course, but that needs to be seen in context. This will be a landmark for Abu Dhabi and show the emirate’s commitment to sustainable design.”

The Mashrabiya is made of a translucent fabric mesh (PFTE), providing occupants with views to the outside even when the screen is completely closed. The honeycomb design is not only practical in terms of shading, but is also very resilient and difficult to damage.

The sustainable initiatives will lead to an estimated 20% reduction in electricity consumption, due to a reduction in the need for air conditioning and lighting, a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions and a 15% in cooling plant capital cost.

The interior of the building is also designed in a spherical style, with the room partitions all fanning out from the interior column to the exterior wall. The ceilings, on the other hand, mimic the exterior of the building, arranged in a honeycomb pattern. A sky garden with a four-storey space above it will be constructed every 7th floor, while the exterior will be landscaped with water features, pedestrian access and a palm reserve.

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