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FWAD : Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
Yas Island Building UAE – design by Benoy
10 Nov 2009
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi – Background
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi – Project Background
In 2006, Yas Island was a flat landscape of desert and scrubland surrounded by navigable water, east of Abu Dhabi City and close to the main highway past the existing airport. To the north the views stretched out past low lying islands to the open ocean of the Arabian Gulf. A well engineered canal created a moated edge to the site and to the west further canals ran past mangrove nature reserves inhabited by migratory birds.
A blank canvas
The Island is a serene but featureless landscape; a vast sprawl with few undulations, yet it is not remote. Recently constructed roads cross bridges to connect into the site and the alignment of a new 10 lane highway links the Island and new airport to the heart of Abu Dhabi City itself.
Though flat and fairly featureless it is the stark beauty of the edges of the Island that give the clue to the real opportunities. The island’s sandy shores are gently lapped by the azure waters of the south-eastern Arabian Gulf. The surrounding sea presents the opportunity to allow water to penetrate deep into the heart of the Island, creating a real sense of place, a sense of island living.
The Client – Aldar Properties
Aldar Properties PJSC is undertaking multi-billion Dirham civic projects to help develop Abu Dhabi, the capital Emirate of the United Arab Emirates, into an international business magnet and tourist destination. As the Emirate’s premier real estate development, management and investment company, Aldar’s vision is to establish Abu Dhabi as the UAE’s most dynamic forward-thinking real estate market by creating unique and prestigious developments that can be used as a benchmark of quality, whilst adhering to the cultural and natural heritage of the city.
Since launching in 2005, the company has announced assignments worth more than $75 billion USD, in a property development portfolio diverse in scope and style, attracting considerable worldwide interest and inward investment. The development company is owned by leading Abu Dhabi institutions, shareholders and investors, providing them with a sound long-term portfolio.
Aldar Properties has a key competitive advantage due to its sound financial backing, large resources, the high level of management expertise and the Government’s support in undertaking large-scale, market-driven projects which add value to the Emirate’s booming property industry.
At the core of what Aldar stands for is the corporate focus on balancing the evolving needs of a modern city while maintaining and conserving the environment. Aldar’s projects seek to prioritise both the immediate and future physical, social and economic requirements of the United Arab Emirates and Abu Dhabi for the benefit of those who live and work in the region.
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi – Concept
The Aspiration: A Resort Island Destination
Aldar’s aspiration for Yas Island is very simple – to create the high quality resort destination of choice the UAE but also the world – a uniquely powerful and sophisticated blend of quality environments, attractions, lifestyle sports, entertainment, major events, living, international brands, local character and flair.
Yas Island represents a key component of Abu Dhabi’s 2030 Vision and will help to significantly raise the profile of leisure and tourism in the region, while asserting Abu Dhabi as a key player on the global leisure stage.
The Yas Island Masterplan
Benoy set about developing the ground breaking Yas Island masterplan by
establishing the contextual relationship between the key leisure components and the
Retail Hub that serves as a community destination for the region. Water and theme
parks to the west, stadia and performance arena to the east, residential parks and
community spaces to the north, and Benoy’s Ferrari World Abu Dhabi to the south, all
align with the masterplanning of the track facilities to create the world’s most amazing
and intensive island destination.
The central highway is a key feature for orientation, as was Aldar’s requirement for
phase 1 elements to be sited to the south. Large format facilities will not only be
obviously visible from ground level but also from the neighbouring flight path, a fairly
unique chance to exploit some pure geometric forms. A landmark shopping centre
is located as the visible central community hub of the island, with spiral arms of
associated retail and leisure radiating out into the landscape to meet the surrounding
hotel and golf developments.
The southern marina village links to the key track-side urban edge through a strong
matrix of streets and squares. This connects with a string of active waterfront piazzas,
full of cafés, restaurants and boutique hotels along a waterfront promenade. A huge
marina with yacht havens cluster against the promenade, flanked east and west by
iconic resort hotels that exploit key views and waterfronts.
Running up the west side of the island is a links golf course in a naturalised
landscape; creating a buffer against the nature conservation area. Further north the
golf development dovetails with lagoon resort hotels, arranged on the beach or golf
frontage opposite the picturesque mangrove reserves.
The northern part of the island, beyond the central highway, contains beach resort
hotels, an equestrian centre, desert golf course, northern marina and business areas,
all with dramatic views out to the Arabian Gulf.
Benoy’s Concept Masterplan is a creative response to Aldar’s aspirations for the
site. It has a strong core vision and an overall critical mass of high quality, resort style
destinations clustered around the Island’s core elements – Ferrari World Abu Dhabi,
the Race Track and world class retail.
At the commercial heart of Yas Island sits the 300,000sqm Benoy designed Yas Mall;
the building acts as a true focal destination and is arranged within a circular plan
form orientated to embrace the visitor from around the globe. A number of entrances
encourage a focus into the heart of the centre. Whether it’s from the 650 key gateway
hotel, or between its bustling flagship department stores.
This ground breaking three storey super-mall features more than 700 shops, a world
class health centre, female crèche, a large ‘kids zone’, multiplex cinema, flexible
event spaces, a hotel and over 100 luxury residential apartments.
State of the Art International motor racing facilities brand destinations across the
globe and Abu Dhabi is no exception. Designed by Hermann Tilke (known worldwide
for race circuits such as Shanghai), the proposal brings together everyone’s best
experience of international motor sport events at the highest level. The track can
accommodate the full spectrum of racing formats, right up to Formula 1. (It is divided
into two key sections – a permanent track, for ‘everyday’ events, and an extended
street circuit looping around a spectacular marina to take the circuit length up to F1
requirements.) The venue is overlooked by a hotel and residential development as
well as iconic grandstands and corporate lounges.
A full range of pit, paddock lounges and team facilities, uniquely arranged along the
marina waterfront brands the Abu Dhabi circuit as a very distinctive place in the world
of motor racing. In addition, spectacular stadium sections of track bring spectators
very close to the action, delivering a unique electrifying experience. The architecture
of the team buildings around the track will take their cue from a reinvention of local
vernacular themes from the Emirates adding a stark contrast to the adjacent sleek
modern forms of the Marina Hotel and Benoy’s Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
At the spiritual heart of Yas Island sits the Benoy designed Ferrari World Abu Dhabi –
the world’s first Ferrari inspired theme park – a thrilling brand experience like no other,
a multi-sensory celebration of a design icon. Opening in 2010, Ferrari World Abu
Dhabi is set to become the world’s largest indoor theme park.
Due to the shape of the island and the position of Ferrari World, the building was
conceived as a very simple ‘ground hugging’ form, peeling up from the landscape
in flowing lines like a red sand dune. The visually distinctive form and shape, crowns
the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 track and every flight in and out of Abu Dhabi International
Airport will experience the true beauty of the sleek shape and form of the building; an
architectural expression of the values of the Ferrari brand itself.
A three pointed star form in plan, with a main core enclosed element and three
extensive ‘triform’ claws to cradle the outdoor attractions, the 3D nature of the
building was derived from an analysis of the sinuous double curves of countless
Ferrari body shells. At the very centre of the plan the huge roof dips and gathers itself
into the ground like a huge crystal glazed and lit funnel, creating the perfect setting
for one of the world’s most exciting acceleration rides. The elegance of the roof form
is part of the experience of Benoy’s Ferrari World Abu Dhabi theme park. As you
approach the building, its scale deceives, the red roof with glistening silver edging
houses a multitude of rides and attractions inside, designed with the direct input of
The building entrance to the north is linked directly to the shopping complex via
the Ferrari Gateway Bridge, leading into the Welcome Pavilion; an area dotted with
authentic cafés and stylish restaurants. Inside the Ferrari World building, a soaring
space frame structure covers a huge undulating plaza deck, on which the many
themed rides and attractions – designed by Jack Rousse Associates, will be situated.
Driving along the western arterial road, approaching the building, the southern
tri-form peels up and sweeps off into the distance revealing the true extent of the
buildings 700meter long elevation, shimmering in the sunshine from the west.
The primary inclined shield façade that wraps around the building is over a kilometre
in length and leans outward by 12 degrees, pushed nine meters into the air at the
base and forward, accentuating the approach to the building while helping to visually
position the attractions inside onto a pedestal, giving the impression that the interior
is somehow unobtainable, like the Ferrari Car itself. In the distance the sunlight
lights up the adjacent mangroves in a bath of light reflecting in the pixel solid and
glazed facade, light dances and sparkles from within. As the sun sets the façade is
lit by tracer lights from the exterior fins, these ‘race’ around the building’s full 1km
elevation, simulating the racing of cars into the night.
The roof form is based on a 120 degree tri-form arm arrangement that extends
over 700meter in diameter, surrounding the 3 levels of 176,000 sqm of main
accommodation within. The east and west tri-form arms house the worlds fastest
Formula 1 themed roller coaster as well as the worlds first duelling roller coasters,
and the southern tri-form arm acts as a flexible performance space capable of
holding more than 15,000 people. Over the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 race weekend this
area will be the venue for several international acts to perform, including Aerosmith,
Beyonce and Jamiroquai.
As one continues past the western tri-form housing the GT coasters, the synergy of
the roof forms and the coasters becomes apparent, one seemingly blending into the
other, cascading forms that express the emotion of Ferrari. Looking back toward the
race track, the sunset in the west, the light glistening off the silvered edge of the roof;
you have arrived at something very special; a unique and prestigious development
that delivers new benchmarks for quality and innovation, a building that utilises the
vision and skills of Benoy’s a highly experienced design and delivery team.
On entering the building at the upper plaza level from the north one crosses the
threshold between the outside world and the space within, one is struck by the
sheer scale of the building. The roof extends up and over your head and disappears
into the distance at 320 meters in diameter. You continue through the space,
extending out in front of you is a vast glazed crystal like funnel roof at 100 meters in
diameter, pulling down to just 17 meters diameter at its base, creating an intensity
of space inside and providing the perfect location for the thrilling G-Force shot ride
within its centre.
The central funnel roof is supported on 12 primary columns which form a 12 point
Arabic star pattern that is used to describe the primary geometry of the overall roof
space and extends out to meet the primary raked shield façade. As you turn back
to face the entrance, around you extending out in all directions are the themed rides
and attractions that are unmistakeably Ferrari sat on a gross foot print area of over
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi – Technical Information
The vision was to create a form that is unmistakably Ferrari, an expression of the
passion and emotion of the brand. Functional requirements obviously include the
need to house the theme park attractions in a huge environmentally controlled zone,
but also to allow the attractions to engage properly with the adjacent shopping
centre, racetrack, roller coasters and surrounding facilities.
Benoy’s proposals realized the opportunity to externalise the edges of the building
in a way which allows engagement with the outdoors. In addition, large voids are cut
into the shell of the building to permit the integration of indoor/outdoor functions, like
the roller coasters, and the flexible performance space to the south.
The sculptural form will sit on an apron of landscape, growing out of the desert
landscape. The apron will change in function as it wraps around the building, from
landscaped terrace to public gardens, and engage with the adjacent track facilities.
Benoy, as the Lead Consultants and Concept Designer of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi,
is responsible for the building’s shell and core design – this is further divided into roof,
plaza, mezzanine and undercroft levels. The design is coordinated with Jack Rouse
Associates (JRA), who are the designers for the front of house attractions, as well as
the back of house facilities.
Since June 2006 the idea of the Ferrari World building went through many design
stages from having a clear idea of the iconic structure described by a double curve of
the Ferrari body shell through implementing the accommodation requirements of the
theme park and several value engineering studies – Benoy Architects delivered the
detailed proposals that demonstrate considered and coordinated design, including
intentions, planning and special arrangements, elevation treatments, build-ability,
technical solutions and analysis.
The scope of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi includes:
• Large scale rides and attractions developed by JRA.
• On 3 levels of accommodation, housed within a mega structure roof covering.
• 1 Main entrance to the northern façade linking through to the Benoy designed
Yas Retail Mall
• A ‘fantastic’ entrance feature that draws people in through the Welcome Pavilion
• 5 key fire/ emergency escape exits from the plaza/ upper level to the east, west
and northern elevations and escape cores housed within the coaster bridges to
the East and West tri-forms
• A service road surrounds the lower level of the building allowing access to the
main ring of service boxes and the service yard to the west
• Public car park provision within the retail car parks and staff car park at the lower
• Leisure facilities
• Customer amenities; including VIP areas
• Staff amenities
• Management suite and Security facilities
• External and Internal landscaping
• Access for Maintenance and Repair
The Ferrari World Abu Dhabi building has been aligned on a key north-south axis
between the racetrack and Yas Mall to maximize the shading from the tri-form arms
on the primary façade. This has the advantage of reducing solar gain and heat loads
within the building itself.
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi – main page on FWAD
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi images / information from Benoy
Location: Abu Dhabi
Major Car-Related Building Projects
Benoy is an architectural practice founded in the UK over 60 years ago; they have delivered such landmark schemes as Birmingham’s Bullring, Bluewater in Kent and the Elements Mall in Hong Kong.
Comments / photos for the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi Dubai Architecture page welcome
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi Building