A Highrise Shaped by Context

With the proliferation of glass curtain wall towers as the established norm for high-rise construction in the gulf region and indifference to climatic, site, or social conditions of the local context, the premise of this project sets out to question the typology of the high-rise residential block. Can a high-rise be contextual? Can it respond to the harsh sun of the gulf? Can it negotiate the stringent zoning requirements and budgetary constraints without resolving to sophisticated cladding systems or complex structural maneuvers?

This proposal for a 42-story residential building in Al Majaz district along the Sharjah Khaled Lagoon waterfront, consists of five projections configured to maximize and negotiate views within its compact urban setting. The design operates along two primary premises. One is the maximization of views out to the waterfront. The slender form is driven via the maximization of occupancy along the elevation facing the lagoon. The oblique projections direct views toward the best orientations on the upper levels and allow the lower units to have better vantage points in relation to the surrounding buildings – avoiding the narrow window to window relationship common within its urban context. The second premise of the design deals with the performance of the skin. The façade of the building acts as both its exoskeleton and its shading device. This frees the interiors from shear walls that would limit internal flexibility while protecting the deep recessed fenestrations from direct sun light and heat gain.


The tower holds a wide array of apartment typologies including 2, 3 and 4 bedroom apartments and penthouses. Because of the unique geometry of the tower, all apartments have dual views across the city and the potential for cross ventilation. Wide “green” terraces mark the end of each projection with built-in planters providing a shaded garden for each unit.


The emblematic structure marked by its rectangular gridded red terrazzo facade borrows cues for its color and materiality from Sharjah urban context – namely buildings of the early modern era of construction in the emirate. An era that celebrated modular prefabricated concrete construction and a style of regional modernity that responded to the local climate and context.


Team: Nihal Halimeh, Jafar Abbas, Fayez Najeeb, Monalyn Gelera, Shereen Raslan, Nawal Saksouk, Alya Al-Fafim, Bindya Menon

Client: Team Engineering Enterprises Ltd

Collaborators: Vizualization by PICTOWN, Physical Model by Roland Diamante

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