Dancing mirage is a towering feat
ABU DHABI //Many of the most striking buildings in the Emirates pay homage to the desert in their designs, be it sleek tributes to the dunes or more solid references to the traditional forts.
But the design of the Seba Tower near the Corniche seems to have tackled a different side of life in the desert - the mirage.
The building carries what appears to be its own blurred shadow, giving the exterior a swimming, hazy look.
The secret, says Ghazi Awad, the managing partner of GA Architects and Engineers, is in the balconies.
"The balconies are the detail that give the building that curving shape," says Mr Awad, whose company is supervising work on the building.
"The core behind the curvatures is a straight building but with the balconies, which move in all four directions, we were able to do something different.
"They are a type of sunscreen … and they give residents that option of being outside in a country where you can easily do that for at least seven months of the year. Plus, of course, they give the building the dancing shape.
"I like to call it the moving or dancing tower. There is something elegant and feminine about it."
The US architectural firm Hillier came up with the design concept and GA Architects and Engineers were given the task of making those drawings a reality.
GA Architects and Engineers is working as the general designer and consultant with the project manager Morganti International and the general contractor Commodore Contracting to make sure the building is ready for handover next month.
Surrounded on all sides by buildings of 20 storeys and more, Seba Tower's apartments begin on the 19th floor. It will have more than 300 one, two, three and four-bedroom flats.
"This way all residents will be able to enjoy a view that isn't hampered by surrounding walls," Mr Awad says.
There will be shops and cafes on the ground floor, and the five floors of the podium, together with three basement levels, will have more than 900 parking spaces.
"This is a building that is solid on its feet and yet has a sense of fluidity," says Mr Awad.
"This has never been done before for a building that combines all the needs of a residential space, an office space, a retail space and a large parking complex.
"It's rare to have this much parking for one building, especially in a city that is desperate for more parking spaces.
"This way, office staff, as well as residents and their visitors can guarantee parking. This has to be the future for Abu Dhabi."
Above the podium, 13 floors will provide more than 24,000 square metres of office and retail space. And the balconies wrap around all 27 residential floors like curved bands.
Adnan Juma, an engineer and project manager at Seba Properties, says there is no question the building will become a landmark.
"Our self-imposed challenge is to always create unique designs that will stand out," Mr Juma says. "Everywhere you go in the UAE, there is architectural excellence you cannot find anywhere else in the world.
"We are always pushing the envelope, so why not with this building that combines practical use with innovative design and beauty?"
53 storeys, 316 flats and 900 parking spaces
Seba Tower, which may be renamed Al Ain Tower when it opens, is 194 metres and 53 storeys high.
It will have 11 high-speed lifts: six for the offices, four for residents and one service lift. Three basement levels and five podium levels will provide more than 900 parking spaces.
Thirteen floors will be dedicated to more than 24,000 square metres of office and retail space, while there will be 316 apartments spread over 27 floors.
On the top floor will be swimming pools, an indoor gym, saunas, steam rooms and possibly a spa.
The balconies of the residential floors are what give the building its shape and they vary in width from 50cm to 3m.
Their balustrades are made of aluminium fins, handrails and clear glass. The building’s facades combine white aluminium with green glass.
* Hala Khalaf
Published: August 18, 2011 04:00 AM