12 aug 2010 | inhabitat.com

Dubai's Park Gate is a Solar-Powered Desert Oasis

by Bridgette Meinhold

Just because a building is in the desert doesn't mean it has to be hot - at least that's what Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill thought when designing their mixed-use development, Park Gate.

The project is composed of six curving towers covered in a solar-powered canopy, with hanging gardens and reflecting pools below which act as thermal sinks. Inspired by the Middle East's ancient and modern souks, Park Gate will serve as a place to rest, socialize and do business in the heart of Dubai.

Park Gate is set to be a 4.7 million sq ft mixed-use development project that will include offices, retail space and a hotel. Its 6 gently curved towers will be grouped in pairs and covered with a light weight vaulted canopy overhead to provide shade for the interior, reducing the ground temperatures by 10-15 degrees. Solar panels cover the roof of the canopy providing renewable energy for the development and also provide structure for the hanging trellises and gardens. The hanging gardens are watered with a water-efficient gray water misting system and help cool the surrounding air.

Oriented to reduce solar heat gain and to receive optimum natural ventilation in the form of sea breezes, the arched structure will provide a shady and cool respite from the desert sun. Balconies on the interior of the arches look down on the cool gardens and reflecting pools below. The salt-water pools act as a thermal sink, absorbing heat during the day and releasing it back during the night. Drought tolerant vegetation is planted throughout the gardens and indigenous, salt-water-tolerant plants are planted near the pools, which reduces potable water use.

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