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MVRDV and BIG collaborate on lifestyle district and plaza in Abu Dhabi
05 Dec 2017 . BY Kim Megson
Dutch architects MVRDV have revealed designs for their inaugural project in the United Arab Emirates: a mixed-use residential and leisure district for Abu Dhabi’s high-profile Makers District
Photo: MVRDV
Dutch architects MVRDV have revealed designs for their inaugural project in the United Arab Emirates – a mixed-use residential and leisure district for Abu Dhabi’s high-profile Makers District.

Called Pixel, the 76,000sq m (818,000sq ft) development will consist of seven ‘pixelated’ mid-rise towers organised around a lively public plaza designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), which steers people towards an adjacent beach, waterfront promenade, marina and public events space.

MVRDV’s towers are described by the practice as “an erupted valley” designed to “create a village-like feel with distinct spaces, pocket gardens and roof decks”. They will be home to retail, office, co-working and community spaces at lower levels, while 480 residential apartments of various types and sizes will occupy the upper levels.

The towers’ restrained and minimalistic exteriors – which blend natural ceramics and concrete to reflect the local climatic conditions – means they are only truly revealed to visitors and residents when they enter BIG’s central plaza and have a direct perspective of the shapes and colours hidden within the façades.

“As part of the waterfront development Makers District, Pixel will offer contemporary living in a dynamic setting for future residents, as well as both local and international creatives”, said Jacob van Rijs, MVRDV co-founder.

“All of the towers façades combine concrete with luminous ceramics on the inside – a nod to the region’s pearl diving heritage – and they'll be a vibrant and engaging community for creativity, learning and forward living."

MVRDV are working with engineering company Ramboll Middle East and local architecture firm Dewan. The project, scheduled for completion in 2020, is part of a wider 18-hectare masterplan developed by real estate firm IMKAN Properties.

The Makers District is located opposite Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District – home to the Zayed National Museum, Jean Nouvel’s recently-opened Louvre Abu Dhabi and the planned Guggenheim Abu Dhabi by Frank Gehry.
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