After an international competition in July 2004, we were appointed to design a mixed-use development for the Dubai International Finance Centre. Lying adjacent to the Gate building, the project consists of a complex of ten buildings on a raised podium of car parking, which is enclosed by perimeter live/work studios. The podium level is pedestrianised with shops, restaurants, and galleries. Above this are offices and apartments, with penthouses on the top two floors.

The height and mass of the buildings is designed to shade the podium streets naturally, as in traditional Arab villages, tempering the harsh climate. The pedestrian streets vary in width and length, and open onto larger piazzas. The use of shop canopies gives a human scale.

Natural stone is used throughout on the facades, with differing texture and treatment according to their orientation. Deep window reveals shade the glazing, while allowing daylight into the buildings. Other shading devices to the windows have been developed from traditional mashrabiya screens.

The building group is divided up by a series of large external stair towers, which create a strong identity for the development. The thick concrete walls of each tower have a high thermal mass, which helps to temper the internal environment and reduce solar gain.

The project was constructed within tight budgetary constraints (approximately 220 AED / ft², including shell and core and streetscapes) and was completed on time and to budget.


  • Location Dubai, UAE
  • Value Confidential
  • Size 240,000 m²
  • Year 2008