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Global Living - Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers and Portugal


The façades of the Etihad Towers are a project-specific special construction based on the Schüco UCC 65 SG and AOC SG systems. They have been tested and approved in Germany and the UAE.

mpt Paula Teles & Álvaro Fernandes Andrade, Porto/PT
The village of Pocinho in northern Portugal on the Douro river is well-known for its water sports. Situated within one of the oldest wine-producing regions, the reservoir of the Barragem do Pocinho dam quite recently became a popular training destination for rowing teams even from outside Portugal. This newly discovered gem led to the construction of a new Olympic high-performance centre for rowing. An impressive piece of architecture, despite the small budget, now snakes its way across the hills of Pocinho. The section of the building which is above the ground is one storey throughout and houses communal and workout rooms. It consists of a string of white building structures which either trace the terraced landscape or sit parallel to the hillside. Accommodating up to 130 athletes, the residential rooms are dug into the slope in a staggered arrangement and lit by Schüco AWS 75 RO roof windows. To harness the best possible vistas of the valley and lake, the architects selected the fully-glazed façades of the Schüco FW 50+ system with AWS 60 windows.


As the wealthiest part of the United Arab Emirates, at the turn of the millennium Abu Dhabi began to make itself independent of oil production as its single source of income. Tourism, trade and services have been developed in an effort to diversify the economy. The »Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030« forms the framework for this growth. As the development of further skyscrapers is an explicit part of »Vision 2030«, the contours of the skyline along the short 8 km corniche are becoming increasingly indistinct. In the immediate vicinity of the highend Emirates Palace Hotel, DBI Architects added an unmistakeable landmark to the silhouette of the megacity – the Etihad Towers. The recently-constructed building complex resembles a towering sculpture. The five towers, three of which rise from one multi-storey base, are between 54 and 74 stories high; the highest tower reaching 305 metres.The numbers are impressive. The towers offer 500,000 m2 of floor space, a 2500 m2 ballroom – the largest in Abu Dhabi, a curtain wall made from aluminium profiles and greyblue coated glass covering 135,000 m2, and a structural glazing façade spanning 6000 m2. The project-specific façade constructions were created using German expertise and »Made in Germany« products. Priedemann Fassadenberatung GmbH, based in Großbeeren in Brandenburg, was responsible for planning. The curtain walling of all five towers was designed as a project-specific solution based on the Schüco system UCC 65 SG. A modified design of the AOC SG system was used for the 23-metre-high façades of the podium on the base level.

Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030

In total, 6000 m2 of structural glazing façade were constructed on the Etihad Towers. Due to the high proportion of dust and sand in the air, keeping the glass clean posed a particular challenge.
The basement level, with a shopping mall, bars and restaurants, serves as a hub for the wide range of uses in the complex.

The curtain walling of all five towers was designed as a project-specific solution based on the Schüco system UCC 65 SG. A modified design of the AOC SG system was used for the 23-metre-high façades of the podium on the base level. Both façade solutions were tested and approved both in Germany and in the Emirates using a mock-up. Guests at the luxurious »Jumeirah at Etihad Towers« describe the panoramic view through the structural glazing façade of the »Hotel tower« as »breathtaking«. Among others, the EADS Airbus Group, the French embassy, and a Southkorean oil company are located in the »Office tower«. The three »Residential towers« accommodate just under 900 luxurious apartments and several penthouses, one of which even the client themselves has acquired. The living space in Etihad Towers was extremely well received; more than half the apartments were already snapped up when it opened by people from over 60 nations. Shops, restaurants and bars are all part of the clearly attractive facilities located on the base floor, which serves as a hub for a wide range of uses. Many high-end brands have opened flagship stores here, some for the first time in the UAE. Last but not least, Etihad Towers served as a backdrop for the recent film, »Fast and Furious 7«. On the run from his pursuers, Dominic »Dom« Toretto breaks through the façades in a flame red sports car in order to »fly« from one tower into the next. The question remains as to how the high-performance speedster made it to the 45th floor. Maybe Dom didn’t want to leave it in the car park.


Based in Brisbane, Australia, DBI Architects opened an office in Dubai in 2012. The 70-strong planning team works in an interdisciplinary manner across areas such as architecture, urban and landscape planning, and interior design. The company won numerous awards for Etihad Towers.