How to sell umbrellas in the desert

Monday 08 Nov 2010

Nabil Gholam Architects re-imagines the modern mall

The proposed scheme is based on a low-rise perimeter block type development with active external and internal edges. The built-up area is distributed over three floor plates, each self-contained with its own vertical circulation and services core. The passages between these blocks become the entrances and alleys leading to an internal covered courtyard that is the heart of the project.

The result is a modern mall as a reinterpretation of a traditional khan-like souk typology. It is organised around a freed up central space that is lushly landscaped and is designed as a main part of the eco-friendly air conditioning system of the project. It is accessible through a pedestrian avenue cutting through the project and extending the Mirkab street shoppers promenade. It brings them into a cool shaded environment and enhances the shopping event as it combines it with the city experience.

Climatic comfort is achieved through an innovative system combining common artificial air conditioning with a natural passive system relying on radiant cooling and air stratification; water walls flanking lush greenery facilitate vaporisation and condensation, as carefully placed openings channel the strong southern winds into the mall, and help preserve a layer of cooler air close to the shoppers.The building envelope itself is made up of a double-skin elevation that filters sun rays and provides a ventilated buffer that exhausts hot air away from the internal spaces. Mesh panels wrap around each block transparent to light and views but blocking out most direct radiation.This hybrid solution helps combat the desert climate during extreme heat peaks, and opens up the mall to enjoy natural mechanisms during regular temperatures

Occasionally, these systems come together to create a magical event within the project. As the water evaporates and starts to cool above the green plants, it starts condensing into mist. At certain times, the system generates a real cloud that drizzles and pours with rain, a remarkable phenomenon that transforms the project into an unusual attraction and a talk-of-the-town spectacle contrasting with the desert environment outside.This project is actively designed to minimise environmental impact, and to present an alternative, enlightened way for urban regeneration in a commercially viable package.

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