Stone Towers, Cairo by Zaha Hadid Architects
All images, plans and information courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects; © by Zaha Hadid Architects; Please note the end of this article for detailed project credits
The richness observed in the intricate patterns carved into minarets throughout Cairo and Egyptian Hieroglyphic patterns, with variations in repetition, density, and relief have contributed to the abstract pattern specific to Zaha Hadid Architects’ design for Stone Towers.
Stone Towers development is part of the wider Stone Park development which derives its name from an ancient petrified tree at the heart of the development. The New Cairo City site optimally positions the Stone Towers to offer state of the art office facilities to a rapidly expanding Cairo. The programmatic variety of the Stone Towers creates a rich mixed use environment for office tenants. The 525,000sqm development also includes a five star business hotel with serviced apartments, retail with food and beverage facilities and a central feature landscape referred to as the “Delta”.
The design mediates the two distinct edges of the site – the high-speed ring road to the North, and the Stone Park residential component to the South. With such a large scale project, care must be taken to balance a necessary requirement for repetitive elements while avoiding an uncompromising, repetitive line of static building masses. The architecture of the two bounding edge conditions pursues a rhythm of like, interlocking, yet individually differentiated building forms. Verbatim repetition is instead a series of self similar, yet unique forms.
This is complemented in the plan and section where the building edges visually interlock and merge with the landscape, creating a cohesive composition. Egyptian stonework both ancient and more recent displays a vast array of patterns and textures that, when illuminated by the intense sunlight of the region, creates animated displays of light and shadow. The effect is powerful, direct and inspiring. The Pre-cast facades on the North and South elevations of each building edge emulate the effect using a vocabulary of alternating protrusions, recesses and voids. The richness observed in the intricate patterns carved into minarets throughout Cairo and Egyptian Hieroglyphic patterns, with variations in repetition, density, and relief have contributed to the abstract pattern specific to Zaha Hadid Architects’ design for Stone Towers. Deep reveal shadow lines accentuate the form of the North and South facades referencing the elegant curvatures seen in Egypt’s ancient relief carvings.
NORTH EDGE OFFICE BUILDINGS
The North Edge buildings are taller and more vertical than the South edge in response to the ring road at its North border. The 9 North Edge buildings form a gentle S-curve in plan along the edge of the slip road creating pockets for landscaping at the entrance drop-offs. The skewed orientation of these buildings creates two different effects when observed driving either West or East. From one direction the louvered East Façade is more prevalent.
From the other, the curving, solid pre-cast façade dominates. Additionally, the building set-out creates a high degree of self shading for the more transparent East and West facades. Each building follows a similar set of rules, yet each building is entirely unique. Viewed from the North – South elevations, the buildings splay at the base or at the top in an alternating rhythm.
The point of curvature occurs at different heights animating the entire North – South elevations. When viewed obliquely, the gentle curvature appears as a series of ripples. A pattern of vertical slits runs through the North edge pre-cast façade panels. The slits emphasize the verticality and allow apertures out from the North façade. Cut obliquely, the façade feels more or less solid depending on one’s view angle. An all glass, full height atrium groups the 18 “sliver” building masses into 9 buildings.
Situated between the two slivers, the atrium allows views directly through the building to the landscape beyond. The atrium includes circulation circuits at each level accessed via the all glass, scenic lifts. This provides an animated space for the building occupants and visitors.
SOUTH EDGE BUILDINGS
The South Edge buildings are located adjacent to the residential development to the South, the South edge is lower in height and angles away from the drop-off edge. The buildings seem to emerge from the landscape as a series of ribbons forming a different condition facing the delta from the condition mentioned above facing the residential. To the delta side, a dramatic cantilever emerges becoming progressively more pronounced moving from the West to the East. When all South edge buildings are viewed together, the entire edge has a strong visual coherence. The cantilevers project into the landscape offering fantastic views out for the office occupants.
Additionally, the narrow office floor plate ensures generous amounts of daylight will reach all areas of the office interior.
The atrium creates a dramatic entry for arrivals at drop-off level (street level) and from the “Delta” landscape. From the drop-off entrance, a glass atrium opens full height to a skylight at roof level; as well as, dropping 3 levels down to offer clear views of the “Delta”. The two building “blades” flanking the atrium are sheared relative to each other in plan. This is reflected in the “sheared” circulation of the atrium, where circulation bridges and platforms are strategically placed as needed to connect the two sides with access to the core.
LANDSCAPE AND RETAIL
The landscape flows across the site connecting the bounding edges of the development to define the central, outdoor landscape, the “Delta”. Water features, cafes, retail, shaded areas, and an exterior event space activate the landscape. These features form level changes and visually connect to the office buildings creating a pattern that weaves the entire composition together.
STONE TOWERS [CAIRO, EGYPT]
(2008 – tbc)
PROGRAM: Mixed-use buildings: offi ce, retail, hotel
CLIENT: Rooya Group
ARCHITECT: Zaha Hadid Architects
Design: Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher
Project Director: Chris Lepine
Project Architect: Tyen Masten, Joris Pauwels
Design Team: Ceyhun Baskin, David Campos, Eren Ciraci, Alessio Costantino, Inac Eray, Paulo
Flores, Brandon Gehrke, Sofi a Hagen, Josias Hamid, Michael Hargens, Michael
Mader, Edgar Payan, Chryssanthi Perpatidou,Fernando Poucell, Sofi a Razzaque
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Adams Kara Taylor
GROSS BUILDING AREA: 525,000 m2
SITE AREA: 170,000 m2