Italian design firm Barberio Colella Architetti and architect Angelo Figliola have introduced a metropolitan oasis in Abu Dhabi that blends modern technology with low-tech systems to keep cool in very hot environments. This project, called Urban Dunes, counts regionally sourced sand as the primary building material, which would be 3D printed in stereotomic sandstone blocks. In addition to supplying passive cooling, the oasis would pay tribute to the culture of the area with complex and stylish spaces that reflect the traditions of Abu Dhabi.
Spanning 1,000 square meters, the Urban Dunes project operates under the motto “rethinking local sustainable models.” The proposal stemmed from the awareness of the Abu Dhabi’s and the Emirates’ traditional architecture, like beautiful vaulted spaces, vernacular shading devices and cold-water basins, the presided architects said in a press statement. It makes sense, then, that Urban Dunes’ sculptured, dune-like form is integrated with symbolic elements like mashrabiya, vaulted spaces, water basins, fountains and palms.
In terms of adaptability, the architects have suggested a modular design to conform to a wide range of spatial settings. The primary module, a square, can be extended to devise everything from an L-shaped layout to a courtyard. Each module would be comprised of 3D-printed blocks assembled to form a vault with a thickness of 55 centimeters that, united with the heat-reflective cool pigments mixed in the sand, help shield against solar heat gain.
The vaulted places underneath are optimised for natural cooling with stunning mashrabiya, a kind of perforated window screen to facilitate natural ventilation. The inflowing airflow is cooled by the water basins positioned inside and a pair of waterfall fountains and palm trees serving as the centrepiece. Earth pipes flow underground to feed water to the fountains and basins.