Bahrain World Trade Center

September 29, 2016
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BY AMMARA ISA

Gazing at the Manama cityscape, the Bahrain World Trade Center is unmissable from any angle. The second tallest building in the country, the twin tower complex contributes to the growing silhouette of the Bahraini horizon with style. Aesthetics aside, the award-winning building is Bahrain’s masterpiece towards building a sustainable future. The trade center holds the impressive title of being the first skyscraper in the world to integrate large-scale wind turbines into its design.

Construction on the building started in 2004 and took four years to complete. The turbines were turned on for the first time on the 8th of April 2008 generating up to 1.1-1.3GWh a year for the building; enough electricity to power 300 homes. Each turbine weighs an impressive 68 tonnes and are supported by three connecting skybridges which join the two buildings together.  They are aligned north to harness the wind power that blows from the Persian Gulf that significantly increases their potential to generate electricity. Responses to the building were generally positive and the building became an iconic piece in the Bahraini skyline. Not only the first of its kind in the Middle East, the building was the first of its kind in the world.

The sail shaped buildings are a homage to ancient Arab winds towers that traditionally aimed to create natural ventilation in buildings.  As well as providing an extraordinary building from an architectural point of view, the building marked Bahrain’s pioneering shift towards creating a sustainable future.

However, the style of the building did not comprise its inventive functionality, as the commitment towards renewable energy was apparent from the very beginning.

The collaboration between the multinational architectural firm Atkins and the Danish design company Norwin A/S together produced the extraordinary design. The innovative decision to make the wind turbines a major feature of the building projected the strong message that Bahrain was at the forefront of energy-conscious development in the Middle East.  Architect Shaun Killa ensured that the building embraced the concept of natural energy and portrayed to the world it could be done in a desert climate. Its success hoped to inspire similar architecture throughout the world, initiating more energy conscious development worldwide.

The world did in fact take notice. The building won several prestigious awards such as the 2006 LEAF Award for Best Use of Technology within a Large Scheme and The Arab Construction World for Sustainable Design Award.

Watching the turbines spinning across the Manama skyline is a reminder that Bahrain is open to innovation. The lessons learnt from the Bahrain World Trade Center will reverberate around the world showing that the Kingdom is forging the way for groundbreaking environmentally responsive designs in the Middle East.

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