Liquid gold

Wednesday 03 Mar 2010

High impact, low cost project brings a little UK flair to Dubai

The new British Council Dubai is a brand new 1,200 sq m building in Dubai is a high impact, low cost design that is dynamic, flexible, sustainable and meets the demanding needs of the British Council in the UAE. It projects an image of contemporary UK and creates a landmark building in Dubai. It houses their teaching centre operation in Central Dubai with 10 new state of the art classrooms, an office area that supports smart working and a large resource area.

The big challenge was to create a high impact building of comparable modest size, on a modest budget in a city where most architecture projects are of a gargantuan scale with costs to match.The image was to create a space that has the maximum impact visually for the customer and to project an image of a contemporary UK. This has been achieved by keeping the main part of the single storey building simple, low level, with plain white walls, but putting all the focus on to the elevated front façade. This elevation is a celebration of UAE’s stunning landscape and is reminiscent of rippling sands of the desert, with a gold vein running the entire length with an illuminated water cascade pouring off the building, creating an impression of liquid gold, celebrating the region’s natural oil resources. The elevation fronts onto a full width shallow pond which has lively reflections from the cascade yet creates an oasis of tranquility in the busy city.

This sense of drama and height is accentuated by a series of tall, colourful banners lining through with the top of the high front facade. The banners serve the dual purpose of creating an excellent branding opportunity for the British Council whilst creating the illusion of a much bigger building on a relatively large site.

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