Zayed Sports City District Cooling

client : The National Central Cooling Company P.S.J.C, aka Tabreed
branding : Tabreed
services : Architecture
typology : Industrial
location : Abu Dhabi


The National Central Cooling Company, aka Tabreed, is the pioneer of energy efficient gas-fired and electric powered District Cooling systems in the UAE and the Middle East. As the region’s only utilities provider, Tabreed’s primary objective is to offer its customers a highly reliable, efficient, economical and environmentally friendly source of cooling by distributing chilled water through underground network corridors that connect individual buildings to a central cooling plant.

The phaseout of worldwide chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) production is making district cooling (DC) an increasingly popular alternative to chiller retrofits and replacements. By connecting to a DC system, building owners and managers can focus on issues other than chilled-water production, thus liberating financial, personnel, and space resources for other important functions.

Drawing inspiration from the physical transformation of water from its ambient to its chilled state, the design seeks to embody the various stages of this process and to incorporate the implied languages of engineering by translating the color-coding of mechanical and electrical documents to the building materials. Tabreed’s first landmark project attempts to embody a marketing icon by adopting a pop architecture language that seeks to inform and educate the wider public on the benefits district cooling has to offer.

The owner, a UAE company, is the pioneer in energy efficient gas fired, and electric powered District Cooling systems in the UAE and the Middle East. Its primary objective is to offer its customers a highly reliable, efficient, economical and environmentally friendly source of cooling. The request was a landmark project that satisfies functional and aesthetic considerations in its search to establish a recognizable urban icon. It must also inspires and inform potential users of the advantages this technology offers.

This industrial building accommodates a 20000-ton central water chilling plant for the district distribution of refrigerated water needed for air-conditioning. It is located on a site of 1579m2 close to the main entrance of Sheikh Zayed Grand Stadium. It is stacked on six levels and includes basement, ground, mezzanine, first, lower roof and upper roof levels. It has two main entrances to the north and the south. Additional doors are located at the east and west elevations leading to the substation areas. Circulation up and down the building is through a main staircase and a freight lift near the main entrance at the Northern side. Another staircase at the southern side leads to the control room that overlooks the whole plant from the mezzanine floor.

Fluidity of matter, transformation and transportation of water through underground networks as well as the simplicity of the program inspired an organic approach to the design. Concepts such as movement, metaphoric allusions to the medium, mechanical rhythm in the use of repetitive yellow stripes as well as organic evolution in the building envelope’s treatment, seek to inspire and inform. The color coding of engineering documents were taken into consideration as well. Red lines (stone) indicate warm water; blue lines (aluminium panels) for cold water and yellow columns (curved aluminium panels) for electrical currents. Those inspirations found their place in the aesthetics and within the evolution of the building façade. Exterior lighting was also designed to accentuate aspects of the building’s forms and features. It endows the project with a certain visual permanence throughout the day and night.

The aesthetics of spaces inside the project also reflect the project’s design spirit. Its beige epoxy flooring continues as the building’s stone elevations and ensures a continued link with the outside environment. The color coding of the platforms upon which rest the process plant reflects the nature of the equipment within the warm/red – blue/cold color formula. Steel door thresholds follow the yellow columns in a rhythmical yet blunt articulation of transition from one space to the next.

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