This US$25m complex in Dubai was the first research facility to be completed in DuBiotech, a huge freezone dedicated to the life science industry. Architect HDR was also responsible for the freezone masterplan, as well as a headquarters building which is under construction.
A common requirement for the facilities in DuBiotech is the achievement of LEED certification, and HDR’s 32,500m2 research laboratory received Silver status at the end of 2010.
The building’s façades allude to biotechnology research; some of the windows and louvers mimic the images on a ‘southern blot’, a method used in molecular biology.
Located on a site adjacent to Dubailand, the footprint features long blocks radiating from a central core along the east-west axis to minimise solar gain and maximise views.
Louvers are located on the northern face of the building to catch the predominant winds.Views from future high-rise developments will benefit from the project’s minimal use of rooftop mechanisms and the landscaping strategy respects the surrounding desert environment.
The classical elements of fire, water, earth and air formed the basis of the architects’ design. The orientation and choice of materials are said to address the heat or ‘fire’, while the use of louvres was a solution for the ‘air’. The flat, sandy site – the ‘earth’ – was sculpted into dunes and valleys.
Together with the reflective pool in the lobby, these landscaping features give the allusion of an oasis in the desert. The last remaining element – a scarce natural resource in Dubai – is addressed by the grey water principles in the fixtures to minimise water consumption.
Responding to the heat, the facades were clad in an absorptive material, predominantly local sandstone veneer panels on a reinforced concrete structure. The south façade contains high-performance glazing and solar shading devices, while the north façade opens up to allow the passage of natural light and views through vision glass.
The solid east and west-facing short end walls of the bars are also clad in sandstone to mitigate the direct solar gain during the morning and afternoon. The building’s roof features an array of photovoltaic panels on a high-albedo membrane material to take advantage of sunlight as an additional energy source.