Masdar Institute of Science and Technology

Foster + Partners, Masdar City, 2010


Subscribe now to instantly view this image

Subscribe to the Architects’ Journal (AJ) for instant access to the AJ Buildings Library, an online database of nearly 2,000 exemplar buildings in photographs, plans, elevations and details.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

Tall trees aid shading 

Nigel Young     Download Original

  • Tall trees aid shading    
  • Internal courtyard and fountain    
  • Mashrabiya windows    
  • External view of Masdar Institute    
  • Building in its desert context    
  • View of a courtyard space at night    
  • Waved facade     
  • Internal courtyard and meeting space    
  • Buildings placed to shade walkways and communal spaces    
  • Modern materials using inspiration from traditional techniques    
  • Detail of mashrabiya    
  • Detail of solar defense     
  • Meeting space in front of auditorium    
  • Shading provided by sun screens    
  • Covered walkways    
  • Vegetation and greenery help to cool    
  • Transport docking station    
  • Laboratories    
  • Basement plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • Roof plan    
  • Section    
  • Section    
  • Visualisation - Completed Masdar city    
  • Visualisation    
  • Visualisation - Courtyard at night    
  • Visualisation    

Educational group of buildings as part of a wider masterplan to create a prototypical and sustainable city

The buildings are oriented to provide optimum shade and reduce cooling loads. Facades are designed to respond to their orientation and photovoltaic installations on every roof are combined with photovoltaic panels to shade streets and buildings.

Cooling air currents are channelled through the public spaces using a contemporary version of traditional windtowers. The public spaces are further cooled by green landscaping and water to provide evaporative cooling.

The laboratories and residential accommodation are supported by a variety of social spaces, including a gymnasium, canteen, café and meeting space, as well as landscaped areas that create a new destination within the city. One, two and three-bedroom apartments are housed in low-rise, high-density blocks, which act as a social counterpoint to the educational laboratory environment.

Windows in the residential buildings are protected by an interpretation of mashrabiya, a type of latticed projecting oriel window, constructed with sustainably developed, glass-reinforced concrete, coloured with local sand to integrate with its desert context and to minimise maintenance. The perforations for light and shade are based on the patterns found in the traditional architecture of Islam.


  • Begun: 2007
  • Completed: 2010
  • Floor area: 54,000m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Address: Masdar City, Masdar City, United Arab Emirates

Professional Team

AJBL Sponsor

SAS International

SAS International is a British manufacturer of interior products

Find out more