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Waste-management facility in UAE gets a coat of opulence by ZHA

A sweeping curve that resembles the surrounding desert sand dunes tethers aptly to the client’s needs, philosophies and requirements; what more does a building need?

by Meghna Mehta Jun 04, 2019

How often do we see a building express the client’s belief and identity to the T? Here, the building in question is a fitting amalgam of the client’s identity and the architect’s true expression of it through their own design aesthetic.

Bee’ah, the Middle East’s fully integrated environmental and waste management company has commissioned Zaha Hadid Architects to design its new headquarters in Sharjah, UAE, following a 2013 international competition. The complex is part of the client’s ongoing investment, working towards achieving its targets for zero-waste-to-landfill, cleaner air and water, renewable energy and a sustainable future.

Located adjacent to the Waste Management Centre, the new ZHA designed building attempts to enable the company to manage and deliver further advancements in environmental services. The structure and its corresponding site have also been designed to become a learning resource to demonstrate practical ecological awareness to the wider community.

  • Plan - Level 0 Image Credit: © Zaha Hadid Architects
  • Section Image Credit: Zaha Hadid Architects

To further its sensitivity to the environment in construction as well as execution, the building has been conceptualised with environmental considerations woven into its every aspect using a hierarchical approach to limit the need to consume resources, to minimise their consumption and finally by harvesting renewable systems. The mechanism of the building has been devised to utilise 100 percent green renewable energy sources to power itself and ensure that the maximum amount of recycled materials recovered from generated waste are used in its construction. The structure, developed in conjunction with Buro Happold aims to minimise material use, engaging with the client’s experience to reduce water usage during construction as well as execution.

Carrying forward the belief to lower energy usage, power required for the functioning of the headquarters is slated to be generated via low and zero carbon sources, principally from the adjacent waste management centre’s conversion of municipal waste into energy, together with large arrays of photovoltaic cells incorporated within the site’s landscaping. The systems have been developed in conjunction with Atelier Ten to minimise both the energy required for cooling and the need for potable water consumption.

While in milder months, the façade is openable to allow natural ventilation, for the remaining time of the year, the exterior finishes of the building have been selected to reflect the sun’s rays, which helps to reduce energy consumption by providing a local heat profile that is akin to the natural desert. These active and passive energy approaches are calculated to lessen energy consumption by 30 per cent.

  • External silhouette Image Credit: Render by MIR © Zaha Hadid Architects
  • Interiors appear light and open Image Credit: Render by MIR © Zaha Hadid Architects

The 7000 sqm building located on a 90,000 sqm site has been designed in response to its natural context to provide comfort for visitors as well as staff. The formal composition of the new headquarters has been informed by its desert context as a series of two intersecting dunes orientated to optimise the prevailing Shamal winds, provide its interiors with high quality daylight and views, all the while limiting the quantity of glazing exposed to the harsh sun. The two volumes house the public and management section (entrance lobby, auditorium, visitors’ education centre, gallery, and management offices) and the administrative section (departmental offices and staff café). They intersect and connect via a central courtyard that form an ‘oasis’ inside - enhancing natural ventilation and maximising indirect sunlight into the public and administrative spaces within. Educational facilities and exhibition spaces within the headquarters’ visitor centre align with the client’s and further aim to create additional opportunities to increase its community engagement and outreach initiatives.

Adhering to the client’s needs and philosophy of conserving resources, reusing waste and consuming minimal resources for maximum gain, the design stands as an epitome of how architecture should stand for its client’s identity. Apart from being exemplary of modern design and architecture, it can be described as a true ‘Zaha Hadid’ building, where design epitomises function and leaves the viewer breath-taken.

Project Details:

Official name of the project: Bee’ah Headquarters
Location: Sharjah, UAE
Client: Bee’ah
Site area: 90,000 sqm
Floor area: 7000 sqm
Construction date: 2014 - 2019
Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects
Design: Zaha Hadid, Patrik Schumacher
ZHA Director: Charles Walker
ZHA Project Director: Tariq Khayyat
ZHA Team: Sara Sheikh Akbari, Kutbuddin Nadiadi, John Simpson, Gerry Cruz, Drew Merkle, Maria Chaparro, Matthew Le Grice, Gerry Cruz, Drew Merkle, Vivian Pashiali, Matthew Le Grice, Alia Zayani, Alessandra Lazzoni, Dennis Brezina, Yuxi Fu, Xiaosheng Li, Edward Luckmann, Eleni Mente, Kwanphil Cho, Mu Ren, Harry Ibbs, Mostafa El Sayed, Suryansh Chandra, Thomas Jensen, Alexandra Fisher, Spyridon Kaprinis, John Randle, Bechara Malkoun, Reda Kessanti, Eider Fernandez-Eibar, Carolina López-Blanco, Matthew Johnston, Sabrina Sayed, Zohra Rougab, Carl Khourey, Anas Younes, Lauren Barclay, Mubarak Al Fahim.
Structure & façade: Buro Happold, London
MEP: Atelier Ten, London
Cost: Gardiner & Theobald, London
Landscape: Francis Landscape, Beirut

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About Author

Meghna Mehta

Meghna Mehta

An architect by education and a journalist by passion, Mehta pursued a crossroad between her two interests. Having completed an M.Arch from CEPT University in Ahmedabad, she has worked in the field of architectural journalism for over 5 years. Besides content generation for STIR, she continues to teach in architectural schools in Mumbai.

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