Studio Hillier

Studio Hillier

Princeton, NJ


Ras Al Kamaih

The principle ideas include innovative structural systems and energy systems that will allow this project to set a new higher standard for development in this part of the world.  The combining of these systems in the creation of large spans, building surfaces that breathe and diffuse light, and that can store energy for generating electricity will make this a signature project for the world.  
Additional inspiration was derived from the ubiquitous lattice screens that comprise the mashrabiya.  Like the tent, the design of the mashrabiya was a primitive issuance of human invention that resulted from a desire to mediate the harsh conditions of the environment. We have borrowed these ideas and have taken them a bit further.  The compositional repose of curvilinear lines solidifies into sand-colored ribbon-like forms that create a striking contrast with the vertical proportions and geometric grid of the cityscape beyond. 

The ribbon-like shapes accede to poetic gestures without sacrificing function.  They perform the multi-layered roles of roof-enclosure, canopy, light diffuser, and bridge connector.  The normative concept of roof is subverted by the fluidity of form that allows interior space to flow unimpeded by right angles.  Architectural space teases infinite views from within and outside the programmed spaces: Pedestrian paths are woven into the spatial composition to create experiential variety and avoid repetition.  Shaping the pedestrian experience is the central theme in the overall planning and design.

Spatial organization is conceived as a simple hierarchy of form derived by the program.  The large spatial elements for the retail shopping areas and exhibit hall are arranged as parallel ribbons, each providing large, flexible, open spaces with varying heights that can be subdivided to meet program needs. Entry points promote transverse movement through and between the buildings as well as along their length.

The much smaller convention center is a powerfully contrasting element whose circular plan registers as a focal point of orientation within the linear arrangement. The circulation flow opens to a radial pattern offering the pedestrian an array of attractive protected outdoor seating areas and cafes that are laced with cooling fountains and inviting gardens.

Upon arrival, automobiles will be efficiently directed from the nearby highway to the parking garage located on the concourse levels below.  Urban mass transit in the form of an elevated tram or monorail will be introduced over time as the primary means of transportation and connectivity to and from the city, the airports and points beyond.  A transit station has been integrated into the Gateway destination. 

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Status: Unbuilt
Location: Dubai, AE
Firm Role: Architect