Luxury usually comes at a high price, not only financially but environmentally too. But plans for a new building in the heart of Cairo hope to change this high cost to the environment, combining luxury living with eco-friendly technology.
Real estate company, Abraj Misr, has just announced plans to invest 4.5 billion Egyptian pounds (US$589.7 million) in the multi-purpose development known as The Gate. It will consist of residential, commercial and retail spaces, a shopping mall and even a 5 star hotel.
The design by renowned architecture company Vincent Callebaut Architectures (VCA) incorporates green features with high-end services such as luxurious limousines, gymnasiums, a pet care facility and a beauty center to attract potential residents.
The architecture firm’s idea was to metamorphose the city into a vertical, green, dense and hyper-connected ecosystem and “to raise awareness of green sustainable architecture to fight against global warming in order to maintain an eco-friendly earth for our next generation.”
Solar energy, living walls, wind turbines and even roof food gardens will give this luxury development an eco-friendly helping hand to do this.
The Gate is designed around a central boulevard, which is the heart of the complex. The apartments are housed in rectangular buildings attached to this central street. At both ends, there are facades inspired by fish gills that will act as sunshades.
The project is intended to balance the efficient distribution of 1000 apartments and a contemporary and sustainable identity. The smart building will ensure a 50 percent energy saving and a significant reduction in carbon footprint.
It is eco-designed according to bioclimatic rules (solar cycle, prevailing wind directions, endemic plant species etc), and by incorporating renewable energies (wind turbines, thermal solar energy, photovoltaic solar energy, geothermal energy, biomass etc).
Green architectural features punctuate the large building to combine an eco-friendly vision with community-based needs, without sacrificing aestheticism.
Megatrees as windcatchers
Nine ‘megatrees’ will act as windcatchers. Windcatchers have a long history in the country, used in architecture in Ancient Egypt. They are known in Arabic as “Malqaf” and work by redirecting airflow to provide a natural cooling system. They will naturally ventilate the basement spaces and refresh the patios and boulevard.
A garden in the sky
The development hopes to not only be beneficial for the environment, but for residents too. A community garden will provide a social and sustainable space for the building’s occupants. The project proposes to use the roof space as a ‘garden in the sky’ with playgrounds, sports area, food gardens, infinity swimming pools and orchards. The green roof is also a measure to compensate for the high density of the construction and will be an insulation coat above the residences to reduce the urban warming.
Solar photovoltaic cells
The building will use state-of-the-art solar cell technology to generate power. Instead of using conventional solar cells that use visible and infrared light, these innovative new solar cells also use ultraviolet radiation. The solar roof will be covered by walkable solar panels that will shadows above the patios and the boulevard to generate a big part of the electricity necessary for the building.
Green living walls
Living walls have become popular recently, allowing for greenery even when space is lacking. They will allow for the overall reduction in building temperature of The Gate. Heat build-up in cities is largely due to solar radiation being absorbed by roads and buildings that is then stored in the building material. The designers hope that the walls may also be used as a method for water reuse by purifying polluted water and absorbing the dissolved nutrients.
The building will also contain ‘smart homes’ with multi-sensors able to control the different zones, rooms, temperature and ventilation. Solar water heating systems will deliver hot water to all of the bathrooms and kitchens for most of the year. Water is collected in glass-metal tubes on the roof that are exposed to the sunlight and help to warm the water.
Construction of The Gate is due to start in April and be completed in 2018.
Images courtesy of Vincent Callebaut Archictectures.