The Index - Passive Design for the Middle East High-Rise

Dara Towhidi
Foster + Partners, Dubai

The Index is a model for developing sustainable built environments in the Middle East region, as well as other similar climatic environments elsewhere in the world. The building occupies a prominent corner site within the Dubai International Finance Centre, a district intended to provide a catalyst for further economic growth in the region. Balancing a mixture of residential, commercial and social uses to support the Finance Centre and wider community, the 80-story building represents a vertical city quarter with a population of around 6,000 residents and workers on a 20,000-square-meter site.

The Index exploits the sustainable paradigm of maximizing the environmental benefits of a compact, high-rise form with an efficient design that reduces the need for mechanical cooling systems and artificial lighting. Oriented east to west, turning away from the city axis to maximize views and reduce solar gain, the building's core mass absorbs heat and limits its reliance on mechanical ventilation. A system of sunshades shelters the interiors on the exposed south elevation. Entrance is via a dramatic four-story atrium and the tower sites on a landscaped podium, which provides shaded pedestrian routes through the site and a range of places to eat, shop and socialize. The floors are supported by four A-frame concrete “fins” that taper as they rise, creating a slender profile that reveals the building’s structural system and internal organization. This presentation explores the passive environmental design strategies that gave rise to the building form, orientation and material selection.

Accompanying PowerPoint Presentation