A-CERO are the first Spanish architect firm to make the big time in Dubai with their winning design for Nebula. We caught up with their lead architect and managing partner, Joaquin Torres Verez, who told James Newman a little more about the evolution of the project and their work as a practise.
Skyscrapernews.com - Looking at your past work it's on a different scale to this. What sort of challenges did this present when designing Nebula?
Joaquin Torres Verez - Actually we are developing projects of a similar scale in the Caribbean region, but they've had less media attention. The fact of winning a competition and being located in Dubai have helped to make the Nebula project more known. Our practice has had a progressive growth during the last years; this project has come as a natural step in its evolution.
Skyscrapernews.com - What dictated the actual form of the proposals?
Joaquin Torres Verez - We start with an idea of a sculptural form which is progressively transformed into architecture. In this case, the design process some specific aspects of the natural and cultural contexts are put in a dialogue with elements that are part of the studio's philosophy, making a clear reference to the works of British sculptor David Nash.
On a more technical side, the buildings orientation maximizes the sunlight use as a brise-soleil system protects the interior spaces from direct exposition and help to configure the towers external appearance.
Skyscrapernews.com - One thing we noticed was the flowing form that connects three of the towers together, what's the thinking behind this?
Joaquin Torres Verez - Dubai's development is extremely recent, some years ago the local landscape was completely different, a horizontal line occasionally modified by the sand dunes and the waves in the sea. The use of these sinuous forms that make the impression that the towers emerge from the ground is a tribute to the original natural landscape and as way to create a connection between the architecture and its context. As a global form, the projects volumes emerge from the encounter between the land and the sea.
Skyscrapernews.com - How did you integrate the ground level around the scheme in with the surrounding area?
Joaquin Torres Verez - The project is located in an area under development with no important adjacent constructions; the most characteristic attribute is the presence of water around the plot in a desert region. In the exterior space design, our main concern was to take advantage of the nearby beach and canal which are the principal pre-existing elements in the plot.
The project defines an urban border on these two fronts; our position was to make these borders as permeable as possible, with a double intention. First as a landscape theme that defines the new spaces, and second to take advantage of water as a natural climate regulator. The garden zones on ground level and on the towers terraces are another characteristic landscape element that contributes to avoid extreme temperatures by the use of local species.
Skyscrapernews.com - With all the massive scale plans for Dubai do you think its skyline is in danger of becoming over crowded and the various skyscrapers losing character and uniqueness?
Joaquin Torres Verez - Projects being designed and built in Dubai and other regions of the developing world in a scale unseen until now, it's difficult to anticipate what will happen with these cities in the long term because we don't know comparable experiences in the past. A lot of the projects being built today in these places have been tailored by world-renowned architects and conceal a high degree of complexity. We have great concern about how our projects will age, in the election of the building materials we try to make them different and unique.
Skyscrapernews.com - Are there any parts of the design you are particularly proud of? What do you think separated your design from the rest of the competitors?
Joaquin Torres Verez - We are very satisfied of having won a competition in a region where, despite its growing prestige during these last years the Spanish architecture has not been present. We hope that we are opening a new field, no only for our practice, but for other Spanish firms. Our effort in this direction is evident having recently opened a new office in Dubai, from where we expect to carry on many other projects for the region.
Skyscrapernews.com - How important do you think it is to employ green design to prepare the future?
Joaquin Torres Verez - The size of the project and its special location highlight the importance of the use environment respectful technologies. We use them to improve the habitability conditions, energy efficiency, lower the electricity consumption and provide a good use of water, recycling and renewable energy sources.
Skyscrapernews.com - And finally, what are your hopes for the future as a practise?
Joaquin Torres Verez - First of all, we'll carry on with the next steps in the Nebula project, and in a longer timeframe, we expect to keep working with the same enthusiasm and freshness of the beginning.
Skyscrapernews.com - Thanks for talking to us Joaquin.