New York-based architectural firm REX has proposed a spectacular shading solution in its submission to an invited design competition. Two sister Middle Eastern media companies wanted conjoined headquarters buildings, requesting two elegant structures that would reference traditional Arab architecture. The companies also had a long, slender precedent structure for consideration that could simultaneously accommodate offices and the relatively small broadcast news studios. REX took this part as its starting point.
To efficiently accommodate the two media companies’ program within the precedent footprint, offices are stacked over broadcast and news studios, which in turn are stacked over each company’s common facilities. The large studios, which could not fit within the thin towers, and for which permanent blackout is desired, are organized below grade.
To shield the headquarters from the powerful Middle Eastern sun, both sides of each tower incorporate retractable sunshades, each 14.5 meter in diameter. The geometry and overlap of the sunshades reference a traditional Arab Mashrabiya pattern. Once retracted, the sunshades reveal simple, stone-clad towers with floor-to-ceiling, clear glass windows. As the sun rotates past the solid southern cores, the entirety of the buildings’ western facades “blossom” as their eastern facades simultaneously retract, all within the span of about a minute.
Additionally, powerful LEDs are integrated into the caps of the sunshades on the towers’ eastern facades, creating a massive 220-by-220 meters media wall. From afar, the towers form a jumbo television screen, broadcasting the companies’ content in real-time.