Monday, October 11, 2010

Masdar City Masterplan Review

Masdar Institute - Residential Units and Knowledge Centre (Photo: Business Wire)

Masdar City, the emerging global clean technology cluster being built on the outskirts of the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, today set out the conclusions of a comprehensive review of the sustainable development’s master plan.
Initiated earlier this year, the review process was intended to update the master plan and take into account market and technology developments since the original strategy for Masdar City was developed in 2006. In particular, the review sought to capture the knowledge gained through three years of construction and completion of Masdar City’s first building as well as take into account changing market conditions and the evolution of technology.
The master plan review highlighted the achievements at Masdar City to date, including the completion of the first six buildings of the Masdar Institute (students and faculty having moved into the new facility in September 2010), residential units that use 54% less water and 51% less electricity than the UAE average, 30% of electricity demand provided by rooftop photovoltaic panels and 75% of the buildings’ hot water provided by rooftop thermal collectors. The review also confirmed the need for a phased approach to the development to allow for new technological innovations to be incorporated as building progresses.
“From the beginning, Masdar has been engaged in a journey of discovery to create a blueprint for the future of sustainable cities. Our steady progress is being built on our ability to discover the best technologies and approaches to sustainable urban living and bring them most effectively to Masdar City,” said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar.
“As the construction phase progresses, we will be continually learning, adjusting and moving forward towards our vision for Masdar City. As technology and the market evolves so will our plan. The key is to be flexible and adaptable rather than rigid and dogmatic. By doing so we can constantly apply the knowledge captured during our development to the delivery of our Master Plan. We will continually review and update our thinking so Masdar is always at the cutting-edge of global clean technology,” said Dr. Al Jaber.
Masdar’s review of the City’s Master Plan detailed key updates to the project’s build-out timeline, sourcing of renewable power and transportation and building infrastructure. Key revisions include:
• Limiting of the Personal Rapid Transport (PRT) system to an ongoing pilot project within the Masdar Institute facilities, while allowing for the possibility of alternative electric vehicle technologies and transport system to be rolled out in the City.
• Limiting the 7.5m podium and service trench to the Masdar Institute.
• Revised delivery timeline, with the one million square meter Phase 1 now scheduled for completion in 2015 and final build-out by 2020-2025.
• The exploration of new potential sources of power – such as geothermal energy and solar thermal cooling – with a number of pilot projects already underway.
• While still aiming to eventually be powered 100 percent by renewable energy, Masdar City will no longer rely solely on on-site clean energy sources. Instead, the purchase of renewable energy from off-site locations may also be utilized as energy demands increase over the project’s lifetime.
Alan Frost, Director of Masdar City, said, “By its very nature, research is discovery. As Masdar City moves forward over time, many new discoveries will shape the future direction of our journey. The effective capture and implementation of this knowledge, built on our experiences, will prove to be key to our long-term success.”
“Sticking firmly to the scale of our original vision, Masdar is proactive in reviewing and revising our forward plans to embrace new thinking and changing realities across technology advancement, commercial feasibility and the global market,” said Mr. Frost.
“Technology is constantly advancing; we are in the new technology business. At every step of our journey we are tapping into these new solutions and incorporating them into our future plans. Masdar is showing we combine forward thinking with flexibility as we make real progress towards delivering on our vision.”
This is the first of several regular project updates which will continue during the delivery of Masdar City.
*Source: ME NewsWire

Masdar is Abu Dhabi’s multi-faceted initiative advancing the development, commercialisation and deployment of renewable and alternative energy technologies and solutions. The company serves as a link between today’s fossil fuel economy and the energy economy of the future - developing the “greenprint” for how we will live and work tomorrow. Backed by the stability and reputation of the Mubadala Development Company, an investment vehicle of the government of Abu Dhabi, Masdar is dedicated to the emirate’s long-term vision for the future of energy.
For more information about the Masdar Initiative, please visit:
About Masdar City:
Masdar City is an emerging clean-technology cluster located in what aims to be one of the world’s most sustainable cities. This special economic zone in Abu Dhabi seeks to become a global centre for innovation, research, product development and light manufacturing in the fields of renewable energy and sustainable technologies. Leading multinational companies in the cleantech sector, as well as small- and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurial start-ups will locate R&D labs, marketing offices and headquarters in the city. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) will base its headquarters in the city, while GE will build its first Ecomagination Centre at Masdar City.
For more information about Masdar City, please visit:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sydney architects win at Think Brick Awards

Last night in the shadow of Australia’s architectural icon the Sydney Opera House, a host of designers, builders, landscapers and architects were recognised for their creative application and modern manipulation of man’s oldest building tool – clay bricks.

The gala event of over 150 guests was staged by Think Brick Australia, the representative body of the country’s clay brick and paving manufacturers, with the evening paying homage to the ‘best of brick’ used in many forms of modern Australian architecture.

Think Brick Australia launched its annual awards in 2006 to recognise the excellence and innovation of architects, designers and builders using brick in residential and commercial building projects. Two major accolades are announced on the evening – About Face, an invitation-only competition which challenges architects to ‘rethink brick’ and present original ways of using bricks in a contemporary environment, and the Horbury Hunt Award; recognising architectural innovation and brickwork in built projects and named in honour of renowned Australian architect John Horbury Hunt.

MC James O’Loghlin presided over this year’s Think Brick Awards, announcing this year’s winners of the course of the evening. The results of the Think Brick Awards 2010:

About Face 2010
Winner: Durbach Block Architects (Sydney) – Infinity House

About Face challenges invites architects to design a project within a specific design brief, and this year’s timely theme was ‘The Essential House’ – a small-scale residential project providing sufficient rooms in limited space.

Durbach Block Architects’ Infinity House is a figure of eight brick structure which fits comfortably inside the modest 215sqm lush garden leaving plenty of greenery to enjoy and a few hidden purposes for the modern family. The curved walls and arches allow the home to be integrated effortlessly in to its garden surroundings, and also provide the home-owner with an easily divided house that can be used as a rental income, can separate parents and their teenagers, or simply keep living areas and bedrooms in different areas of the home.

Highly commended:
NMBW Architecture Studio - Core House
Terroir - Prototype

Horbury Hunt Award 2010
Residential winner: Durbach Block Architects (Sydney) - Garden House

In the affluent, perfectly landscaped suburb of Bellevue Hill in Sydney, Durback Block Architects firm has crafted a Tuscan-style residence which invites the eye to appraise its delicately textured walls, clever ‘hovering’ structure, and stark design softened with organic elements and leafy surroundings. The exterior walls of the project have a lacy, woven-looking surface, which was achieved by tapping through the façade alignment, resulting in a handcrafted pattern of brick resembling a soft fabric veil across the front exterior.

The winning residential project captured the imagination of the judging panel, who said: “The Garden House displays a different use of brick that is well-controlled, but at the same time creates organic variation while maintaining the discipline of the wall.”

Highly commended:
Design King - Elizabeth Bay House

Commercial Architecture joint winners:
McBride Charles Ryan (Melbourne) - Fitzroy High School
Donovan Hill Architects (Brisbane)- AM60

So impressed were the judges by the calibre of design in the Commercial category, they awarded Donovan Hill Architects (AM60) and McBride Charles Ryan (Fitzroy High School) joint winner status.

The high rise commercial AM60 tower in downtown Brisbane is a pillar of masterful brickwork in a town with very few brick buildings remaining in its CBD. The front façade of the building features an intricate brick ‘open weave’ system which not only catches the eye and plays with patterns, but also acts as a substantial solar control method, letting Brisbane’s famously intense light in to the buildings windows but filtering out the harsh rays and protecting the glass-build boardrooms.

Fitzroy High School certainly doesn’t blend in to the background – coloured bricks have been used to reflect the surrounding Italianate architecture and the curved, smooth exterior of the main building resembles a wave of bricks flowing out from the original community structure. The project brief was to accommodate an additional 250 students and staff across three levels, and the architects thoughtfully approached this task by researching the suburb of Fitzroy, its history, and the importance of the school as a public marker for the local community.

Urban Design/Outdoor Spaces winner: Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture (Sydney) - Balfour Pocket Park

Balfour Street Pocket Park provides a Pedestrian Connection between Sydney’s inner west suburbs of Chippendale and Broadway. The public space, used as a community breakout area, has a rich material of brick, stone and concrete and uses clay bricks in a decorative medium to link in with the nearby brewery buildings, workers terraces and old factories that loom in the distance. The judging panel praised Balfour Pocket Park for being “more artwork than brick” and were impressed with the range of materials combined as a coherent whole.

Think Brick CEO Elizabeth McIntyre said: “Judging the Awards this year was incredibly difficult due to the exceptionally high standard of design demonstrated by all entrants. Think Brick Australia would like to congratulate all our winners and we are thrilled that these amazing building projects have brought to light just why brick is man’s best building material.”

For more information visit: