The headquarters of the Abu Dhabi Investment Council occupy a prominent site on the north shore of Abu Dhabi Island, overlooking the Eastern Mangroves and looking out towards Sadiyaat Island and the Arabian Gulf beyond.

The 82,000m2 development comprises two 150m buildings. We provided a range of services including structural, geotechnical, façade, civil, MEP, fire, and wind engineering. The towers are primarily used as office space, but house catering, plantrooms, auditoria, prayer rooms, and a gymnasium for occupants.

Our aim was to develop a building that was energy efficient and visually iconic, with our services ensuring that the building minimised operational carbon and created a sustainable hub in Abu Dhabi’s financial district.

A unique approach to sun shading

The buildings have a striking aesthetic that defines their character and include innovative measures to improve environmental performance and limit energy use. Our main challenge was to reduce energy consumption and still maintain a comfortable working environment. 

Our solution was to include a modular shading system that opens and closes like an umbrella to provide shade as the sun moves around the building. Reducing solar energy absorption by an estimated 20%, the system reduces the development’s operational carbon by decreasing its reliance on energy intensive air conditioning and artificial lighting.

With the buildings located in one of the world’s hottest climates, coming up with a design to protect occupants from the sun and heat was a priority. Other high-rise buildings in the Middle East use glazed façades with dark or reflective glass to control temperatures, but this significantly reduces natural daylight. Our intelligent façade encloses the south, west and east elevations of the buildings and reduces the amount of tinted glass required. This allows more natural light to fill the buildings' spaces, providing a productive environment for people to work in.

Energy saving through lighting optimisation

The 26-storey towers were designed in accordance with the US Green Building Council LEED rating system, with the buildings having to be as energy efficient as possible to achieve the required LEED Silver status. Some common ways of achieving this, such as water harvesting, were not an option due to the local climate. Instead, optimised other components, adding low energy fans and pumps to stay on target and within regulations.

As well as the shading system, we wanted to make indoor lighting more efficient. We installed local lighting control systems and used low lighting to improve energy efficiency within the buildings. This gives workers control over lighting and the option to personalise their workspace to suit individual preferences.

Creating resilient service systems 

The reliability of building services was key, particularly as the primary business of the Abu Dhabi Investment Council is financial transactions and brokering. We designed an integrated ICT and AV infrastructure for the site, ensuring maximum flexibility for the effective use of technology and related services. Our team analysed how these services could be delivered to achieve this level of resilience.

We ensured that the cooling system and power supply for the data centres within each tower were highly resilient and would continue operating in the event of a primary system failure. This resilience is made possible by each component having an independent back-up in terms of both cooling and electrical supply. A reliable system such as this means that the organisation’s employees can work without interruption.

When designing modern buildings to be energy efficient and resilient in the face of extreme climates, Arup’s Building Services teams have a wealth of experience to call upon for innovative solutions.