Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Barry Lee
Director of Design, Chairman
DBI, Gold Coast

If the intent of a project is to be meaningful, then surely the evidence of its efficacy is in the way a culture utilizes it in its social and political narratives. Awarded as the result of a two-stage international competition, Etihad Towers has, to an extent, become emblematic of Abu Dhabi as a technologically-advanced, aspirational Arabic emirate. This is deliberate. Its dense and complex program has been synthesized into a singular composition that seeks to represent the aspirations of a sophisticated client and an increasingly aspirational and influential Middle Eastern emirate. The parti of Etihad is a symbolic, legible diagram of the resolution of complex and intense programmatic demands. The building seeks to provide clarity and legibility within an interdependent network of functions.

Etihad (unity in Arabic) unifies the disparate programmatic requirements and the national symbols of the United Arabic Emirates into a clear and coherent form that has become the backdrop for television news broadcasts and the set for movies, (including The Fast and the Furious). Why is that? Is there a craving for differentiation and meaning, or are we just interested in pretty things? In this context, the presentation discusses the intellectual, aesthetic and programmatic principles that have informed their design. The exploration will include the climatic response and programmatic resolution, in addition to the role of authenticity, symbolism and meaning in city-making.

Accompanying PowerPoint Presentation