MVRDV reveal designs for their inaugural project in the United Arab Emirates, Pixel, a 76,000m2 residential development, incorporating over 15,000m2 of commercial and retail space, scheduled for completion in 2020 and forming part of Abu Dhabi’s Makers District, an 18-hectare masterplan community development by IMKAN Properties, opposite the Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District. The project mixes work, living and various lifestyles around a central pedestrianised plaza.
Pixel is MVRDV’s new 76,000 m2 residential development and first project set to be realized in the United Arab Emirates. It will consist of seven, mid-rise towers, home to retail, office, co-working and community spaces at lower levels, stepping up into a diverse mix of 480 residential apartments of various types and sizes, at upper levels. Located in Makers District, an 18-hectare masterplan community by IMKAN Properties on Reem Island, Abu Dhabi, the project’s seven residential buildings flank an active public central plaza designed by Danish firm BIG. The development benefits from being opposite the cultural hub of Saadiyat Island, home to the Zayed National Museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.
“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”, says Jacob van Rijs, MVRDV co-founder. “All of the towers façades combine concrete with luminous pearly ceramics on the inside, a nod to the region’s pearl diving heritage; and they will be a vibrant and engaging community for creativity, learning and forward living.’’
MVRDV’s design responds to the client’s vision of a Pixel tower for different users by creating a valley of erupted towers that create a village-like feel with distinct spaces and roof decks, exposing the central plaza and heart of Makers District. Far from being a traditional residential project, future residents and visitors will have access to amenities and services: retail, co-working, artisanal, community and commercial space surround the central plaza at the ground, first and second floors, with the smallest commercial units at 50m2 specifically targeting young start-ups and entrepreneurs. These lower level functions interlock with apartments on the upper floors, along with a redefinition of the typical “penthouse.”
Pixel mixes different lifestyles and offers studio apartments for the millennial mindset on every level, while some of the more luxurious apartments with large terraces are located at lower levels, instead of at the top, and directly overlooking the lively central plaza. All seven towers form a solid composition, complete with a restrained and minimalistic facade design, particularly to the periphery areas which overlook quiet pocket gardens. It is only after entering the central plaza that the project ‘reveals’ itself to visitors and residents.
The buildings all have a distinct façade blending natural ceramics and concrete to reflect the local climatic conditions. The project adopts a "mini-tower" configuration spread across seven mid-rise and relatively slim footprint towers giving it a human scale. All of the towers are orientated to respond to local sun and wind conditions while also maximizing views of the waterfront and surrounding landscape.
The heart of Pixel is its fully pedestrianised and engaging plaza, around which all buildings are arranged. The plaza is accessible from multiple points whilst at the same time maintaining a volumetric direction that steers a larger flow of people from the adjacent beach, waterfront promenade, marina and public event space “The-Artery” towards the city. Pixel is developed by IMKAN Properties, and MVRDV is working with engineering company Ramboll Middle East as lead consultant and with local architecture firm Dewan on project management. Project completion is set for 2020.