Al Bahr Towers
Al Bahr Towers
Al Bahr Towers
Al Bahr Towers are emblematic of Abu Dhabi's aspirations as a new-generation city in the Gulf that is socially cohesive, environmentally sustainable, economically diverse and culturally rich. Edwin Heathcote , Architecture Critic of the Financial Times , highlights the towers' specific urban and cultural context. Part of a significant lineage of modern enlightened Islamic architecture, the towers are also technologically innovative, introducing a new level of complexity and responsiveness.
Al Bahr Towers, a landmark for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The towers form a gateway from the airport to the city's central business district.
The Corniche, Abu Dhabi.
The city's main beach pictured at dusk, with the backdrop of the downtown Abu Dhabi skyline.
Abu Dhabi is the serious, urbane, metropolitan heart of the Persian Gulf. Self-assured, wealthy, a bustling commercial nexus of banks, oil and luxury, it is the old world of the new Emirates. Amid the spiky skylines, the extraordinary crucible of architectural experimentation which the whole region has rapidly become - a catwalk of fashionable form - the centre of Abu Dhabi can seem to stand out as a moment of considered urbanism. Its sensible attitude to city-making embracing everything from its rigorous, New York-style grid to its (relatively) restrained skyscrapers has differentiated it from some of its neighbours, where extravagant architecture and a thirst for superlatives, for the tallest, the biggest, the most expensive has consciously defined the fast-changing cityscapes.
Abu Dhabi's long-term strategy, its desire to create a new type of Gulf city based on culture, on research and on a considered attitude to the urban fabric, has made it into an extraordinary confluence of architecture and urbanism, of invention and ambition. Western starchitects, big commercial players and ambitious international practices have all been pulled in by the mesmeric opportunity to build at a huge scale, to try unprecedented things, to realise extravagant dreams.
The whole of the Gulf also finds itself at the heart of an unprecedented and arresting collision of ideas and aesthetics, of cultures not so much clashing but rubbing against each other to generate sparks of static which occasionally produce architectural explosions of both the most inspirational and, occasionally, the most shocking kind. The speed at which the new Gulf capitals have grown and the ambition of those who have built them to compete on equal terms with those historically established island centres of trade, wealth and the dense urban modernity to match, from Manhattan to Hong Kong, have led inevitably to some mistaken experiments, abandoned plans and to an undistinguished morass of built mediocrity; but the same factors have also generated a clutch of compelling structures and, more importantly, the notion of the Gulf as a place of potential, a place of dreams and experiments in which the most fantastic and counterintuitive of ideas becomes achievable.
Of course the massed architects of the West are here because of the scale of the commercial opportunity, but they are also, significantly, being increasingly drawn to a vision of Abu Dhabi which proposes a culturally responsive, intelligent and specific city, an antidote to the proliferation of non-places in the desert which have become the local norm. This is a place with a plan. The vast, glinting white model representing the Abu Dhabi 2030 Urban Structure Framework Plan is a rare and stunning glimpse of a convincingly urban place. The programme for a new-generation city aims for a blend of social cohesion, economic and environmental sustainability, business diversification and cultural wealth. It embodies a kind of holistic vision which is almost unprecedented in the region, a patient, considered emergent urbani