Concept for New Souk Central District Cooling Plant

client : The National Central Cooling Co. aka Tabreed
branding : Tabreed
services : Architecture
typology : Industrial
location : Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

 This plant room combines all necessary installations of a standard district-cooling scheme with a design aesthetic commensurate with Tabreed’s ongoing transformation from a local district-cooling provider into a full-fledged utility enterprise with an international architectural agenda.

With its proximity to Aldar’s mega-development and position along the main roundabout, this plant room’s visibility offers more to the city than another passing commercial reference. Because it will be seen primarily in motion as one drives by throughout the day and night, the language adopted for the design is purposely institutional in nature.

Fluidity and motion, transformation, transparency - ideas emerging in the design process as we attempted to apprehend the essence of Tabreed’s identity and message today.

Two low-e high performance double-glazing layers surround the ground floor plan (See right); the inner layer will be lightly tinted whereas the outer layer will receive a dotted frit thereby ensuring reduced heat gain as well as ensure a partial shielding from public view.

The 12.0m x 5.75m structural grid will allow more flexibility than a other traditional plant rooms in order to accommodate the installations and architecture.

In order to endow lightness to the volumes, a one-directional post-tensioned slab will be required to support the cantilevers of the top floor level. The support system will also rely on the outer columns in the North-South direction that are interlaced with the curved base element in a move that blurs structural integrity with fluidity of movement and lightness. With a flexible structural concept that takes the process plant installations into consideration, the next layer in the design was to treat the screening of the cooling towers with a metallic and undulating mesh. The resulting impression is one of transformation, as viewers will gradually experience the fluidity of the structure as they approach and distance themselves from the plant room; from static to organic…

Using cold-cathode light pins and metal halide floodlights in synchronization with a dynamic internal scheme, the nighttime effect will be “glowing” and alive.

The incursion of industrial and public utility projects into our cities raises the question, as architects and planners, of how to make them look integrated and acceptable within the urban and social fabric. In the past, these projects were all too often treated as functional necessities with aesthetic considerations pre-empted by arguments of site and economics and were ultimately regarded as symbols of industrial infringements on the lower classes of society.

Today, worldwide industrial and public utility projects have gradually adopted more sophisticated architectural languages. Though marginal in their typologies, they have become the subject of frequent publications that have validated them as responsible elements in our urban welfare: something integral to Tabreed...