MZ Architects discuss Abu Dhabi's 'daring' Al Qana waterfront development

Published: 14 November 2019 - 9:45 a.m.
By: Staff writer

How did MZ Architects become involved with Al Qana?

MZA got involved through an international design competition, with our design proposal for the Canal Walk project, now Al Qana. We have worked with the developer and his team to produce what will be one of the most iconic developments in Abu Dhabi.

What techniques have you used to design Al Qana?

Designing unique designs usually involves finding new techniques as part of the development process. For example, at Al Qana, one specific element, the façade cladding material, was developed specifically in order to fit the project vision. This was a challenge.

What other challenges did you face?

During the initial design, many challenges were overcome, in particular there was the expansion of the initial brief and changes in order to keep up with the ambitious vision of creating a vibrant spine of the Al Maqta area and the city of Abu Dhabi. Furthermore, daring architecturial design required complex structural and technical solutions, both of which was a challenge not just for MZ Architects but for other key parties involved in the project.

What makes Al Qana's architecture and design stand out?

Al Qana is an exceptional large-scale project and, with its functional diversity and distinctive architectural design, will play one of the key roles in future social and architectural developments in Abu Dhabi. Besides the unique architectural language of the whole development, accentuating movement and dynamics of the form, each building has its own distinctive architectural features and design story.

Tell us about the cantilever design at Al Qana?

Cantilevered geometrics add to the vision of creating dynamic and daring architecture design and at the same time, improve the functionality of the surrounding spaces by providing shaded sitting areas in the dining hub and landscaped public areas. For Example, the main pedestrian promenade extends six metres over the water, while the biggest structural cantilever is close to 20 metres in Block N building, where you can find architectural form of three full floors being cantilevered over the first level open terrace.

How have the spaces been designed to maximise social interaction and enjoyment?

The promenade lining the canal, inspired by the jagged lines of Abu Dhabi’s salt flats, is designed in a particular manner to achieve a longer, more dynamic and vibrant pedestrian area. Spaces between buildings, formed and designed as open piazzas with various design inspirations were designed as places of gathering, social interaction and enjoyment in different ambiences. Buildings and piazzas are connected via pedestrian bridges, ramps and terraces on different levels, creating multilayered public space that will further promote the dynamic lifestyle and unique visitor experience.

What other major projects has MZ Architect worked on and how did these experiences help shape your design for Al Qana?

Aldar headquarters, with its innovative design has become an iconic project and silhouette in the Abu Dhabi cityscape. During the design stage, there were many complex challenges that required creative technical solutions and the experience on this project has certainly been of help in the design approach and development of Al Qana.

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