Inspired by the natural elements of the UAE, Perkins + Will explain the reasons behind three forward thinking sustainable designs

Perkins + Will are continuing their crusade into the realms of sustainable design, presenting three unique new projects in the United Arab Emirates that incorporate a range of powerfully effective methods of climatically adaptive design.

First up is Dubai International Finance Center – a 60-storey mixed use facility featuring office space, restaurants, residential and hotel accommodation. Symbolic references run through the pleasing external aesthetics, as two expressive facades relate directly to the two key constituents of Dubai’s natural landscape. A faceted, perforated metal sunscreen evokes the undulating form of sand dunes whilst a horizontally layered lattice punctuated by turquoise glass fins recalls the expanse and glimmer of the nearby ocean.

The Al-Birr Foundation Headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia takes its inspiration from three traditional elements of Islamic culture – the spiral minaret, the walled garden and the mashrabiya. A classical rectangular structure, the Al-Birr Foundation Headquarters immediately projects a formal air, towering above the largely low-rise surrounding urban landscape at 28 storeys high. Within this calibrated skin is a ‘spiraling garden’; a series of open terraces and suspended courtyard gardens saturate this internal space, the concentration on traditional elements an attempt to reflect the established values of the Al-Birr Foundation ‘to protect, replenish, and care for needy children and families’. The permeable façade is calibrated via a series of mapping exercises to create varying levels of openness based on solar exposure and spatial and contextual influences.

Last but by no means least is the Kempinski Hotel and Residence Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, recently renamed the Assila Tower. Similar to the previous two projects, the Assila Tower is unremarkably simple at first sight, yet its discreet exterior masks a subtle experiment in program, site and climate. Marking the shift from the desert landscape to the Red Sea, the basic form plays on texture and light to integrate with its natural surroundings. The structure’s 60,000 sq m is an amalgamation of luxury hotel rooms, serviced apartments and condominiums, completed with below grade parking capable of accommodating 600 cars. Sweeping balconies caress the building’s external form, swelling in size nearer the top, creating spaces which may almost be classified as outdoor rooms in their own right.

To find out the whys and wherefores of Perkins + Will’s current projects in the UAE, WAN quizzed Robert Goodwin – Design Principal of Perkins + Will in New York – about the design decisions that go into such sustainably focussed building proposals.

Sian Disson
News Editor

Al-Birr Foundation Headquarters
Al-Birr Foundation Headquarters
Dubai Tower
Dubai Tower
Assila Tower
Assila Tower


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