(1991) Citybank

client : HH Sheikh Mohamed Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan
typology : Commercial
services : Architecture
where : Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Retrospective 1991-2000 video: https://www.instagram.com/p/CPyTSojDdNX/

This 23,300 sqm mixed-use tower has 3 main parts: The ground and mezzanine levels housing the Abu Dhabi Branch of Citibank; 17 stories with 4 bedroom apartment units on every floor, and 4 duplexes on the top 2 levels. It is located on the Eastern side of Abu Dhabi overlooking he panoramic sea views. It has a large underground car park on 3 floors and for 115 cars. It has access form the large open space at its front. The entrance to the building is from the back as the windows on the main streets are used for the bank.

On a square plan, this tower rises dressed in white and ornamented in blue. Challenging as it seems to build on a perfect square, the architect did not try to hide it. He embraced it and reinforced the fact by highlighting it with strong visible corners. This time, he did not make it a simple sharp edged line as is the case in other buildings. He placed a series of little rounded balconies departing from a well introduced starting point and repeated all the way to the top.

The base or lower part of the building is a series of vaults. They are in fact arches, sliced out of domes. They cover the footpath around the double height façades of the bank, and also form the base line for the protruding parts of the tower. On all façades, the protruding part holds the balconies.

To the special style of the architect, they are very narrow. This concept, unique to Cassia’s buildings, is used for very specific reasons. It is evident that residential apartments need balconies, and in a place like the UAE they are rarely used, but very important when needed. The idea of having only about 50cm wide balcony has many benefits. It provides enough space for people to step out while making sure that maximum space has been used for the interior. The façade openings for the apartments are large simple blue aluminium frames. The balustrades of balconies are also covered with semi transparent metal mesh, thus providing privacy, as well as transparency to enjoy the view.