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Al Bahr Towers in Abu Dhabi: Kinetic Architecture, Innovation and Sustainability

06 Sep 2023


In the heart of Abu Dhabi's skyline, two iconic towers stand as shining examples of innovative architecture and sustainable design. The Al Bahr Towers, also known as the Abu Dhabi Investment Council Headquarters, are a testament to the ingenuity of modern architecture, combining traditional local aesthetics with cutting-edge technology to create a truly unique and sustainable structure.


Designed by the globally acclaimed architectural firm Aedas, the Al Bahr Towers are an architectural marvel. These twin towers, each soaring to a height of 145 metres and comprising 29 floors, exhibit a unique feature that sets them apart from conventional skyscrapers - a dynamic, responsive façade inspired by the traditional Islamic mashrabiya design.


Behind the innovative façade lies a complex engineering system. The towers' sustainability is further enhanced by features such as water-efficient landscaping, energy-efficient HVAC systems, and efficient lighting. The use of smart technology ensures that the towers remain environmentally conscious without compromising the comfort of occupants.

The Mashrabiya Façade

The most striking feature of the Al Bahr Towers is undoubtedly their mashrabiya-inspired facade. The term "mashrabiya" refers to a traditional Islamic architectural element characterised by intricate geometric patterns. Typically crafted from wood or stone, mashrabiya screens have been used for centuries to provide shade, privacy, and ventilation in buildings across the Middle East.

In the case of the Al Bahr Towers, this traditional concept has been reimagined for the 21st century. The towers are enveloped in a layer of 2,000 geometric panels that respond to the movement of the sun. These panels open and close, creating a dynamic pattern that not only adds to the towers' visual appeal but also serves a critical sustainable function.


Sustainable Innovation

The responsive Mashrabiya façade of the Al Bahr Towers plays a pivotal role in the sustainability of the building. By adjusting throughout the day to control the amount of sunlight entering the interior, the panels significantly reduce solar heat gain, thus decreasing the towers' reliance on artificial cooling systems. This design is a nod to the UAE's commitment to sustainable architecture, as both towers have achieved LEED certification for their environmentally friendly features.

Accolades and Recognition

The Al Bahr Towers have not only captured the attention of architectural enthusiasts but have also received numerous accolades and recognition on a global scale. They have become a symbol of the UAE's dedication to sustainable development and cultural preservation. Some notable awards include:

1. LEED Gold Certification: Both towers have been awarded LEED Gold certification for their sustainable design and green building practices.

2. CTBUH Award: The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) recognised the Al Bahr Towers with the Innovation Award for their pioneering facade design.

3. AIA Middle East Merit Award: The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Middle East Chapter awarded the towers a Merit Award for their architectural excellence.

The Design Team

The success of the Al Bahr Towers can be attributed to the collaborative efforts of a talented design team. Led by architectural firm Aedas, the team included experts in sustainable design, engineering, and construction. Their collective vision and dedication to creating a sustainable architectural masterpiece have left an indelible mark on Abu Dhabi's skyline.


The Al Bahr Towers in Abu Dhabi stand as a testament to the power of innovation and sustainability in modern architecture. Their dynamic mashrabiya façade, sustainable features, and international recognition make them a shining example of what can be achieved when tradition meets technology. These towers not only provide a distinctive addition to the cityscape but also serve as an inspiration for future sustainable architectural endeavors.




1. [Aedas - Al Bahr Towers] ( )

2. [Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat - Al Bahr Towers] ( )

3. [American Institute of Architects - AIA Middle East Awards] ( )

4. [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)] ( )


Image Sources:

1. [Aedas] ( )

2. [Architizer] ( )

3. [Architizer] ( )

4. [Architizer] ( )

5. [Architizer] ( )


Video Source:

1. [CNBC International TV (YouTube Channel)] (