Abu Dhabi’s Al Bahr Towers second to Canada’s Marilyn Monroe buildings in best architecture awards

The distinctive, eco-friendly towers on Salam Street placed second in the latest Emporis skyscraper awards.

The twin 29-storey Al Bahr Towers use a solar shading system that features a computer-controlled facade made up of thousands of translucent units.  Razgova / The National
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Abu Dhabi’s striking Al Bahr Towers, their design inspiring comparisons with exotic pineapples and honeycombs, have been named among the world’s best towers in a highly regarded award for high-rise architecture.

The twin 29-storey super-green Abu Dhabi Investment Council headquarters came second in the Emporis skyscraper awards for projects completed last year.

The buildings are known for their distinctive covering of 2,000 umbrella-like elements that can be opened and closed to keep the sun off the glass building as it moves across the sky but also let in daylight.

The German-based skyscraper data company Emporis praised the Aedis-designed office towers for providing “a dynamic, translucent facade that runs off power generated by photovoltaic panels and which reacts to sunlight.”

The towers have already featured on the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s “Innovative 20” list of buildings that “challenge the typology of tall buildings in the 21st century”.

The latest award comes after Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Towers was awarded third place in the competition last year.

First prize in the competition went to the Absolute World Towers in Mississauga, Canada, a suburb of Toronto – home to 20,000 Arabs and the centre of a recent Arab investor-led property boom.

The towers, known locally as the Marilyn Monroe buildings because of their curvaceous designs, form part of a five-building complex and were designed by the architectural practices MAD and Burka Architects.

“It’s hard to predict whether the award would have an impact on the value of the property but it’s definitely putting the city on the map,” said Sama Al Naib, a resident of Abu Dhabi, whose family owns property not too far from the Absolute towers. “It could encourage more innovative ideas when it comes to residential buildings, especially in a city like Mississauga that is very residential and not as urban.”

The Emporis awards are regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious prizes for high-rise architecture and have been assessed annually by a panel of architects and other experts since 2000.

More than 300 towers measuring at least 100 metres tall and completed last year were eligible for the competition.

The jury voted the Ateliers Jean Nouvel-designed Burj Qatar, a 238-metre tower in Doha, at third place.