Panoramic majlis,

Abu Dhabi 2011-2013,

United Arab Emirates

TYPE: Architectural and Engineering Consultancy by Invitation

CONTRACT LOCATION: Abu Dhabi, Existing Breakwater

CLIENT: Private Client, Abu Dhabi

PROGRAM: Panoramic Majlis, Aquatic Center

SURFACE AREA: 15 000 m²

VCA’S TEAM: Emilie Diers, Frederique Beck, Benoit Patterlini, Marco Conti Sikic, Vincent Callebau


The aquatic complex is implanted on an artificial island in Abu Dhabi, a polder measuring 100 meters by 100 meters, at the end of a 500 meters long breakwater. The purpose of the project «Solar Drop» is to maximize the magnificence of this exceptional site thrown on the Sea of Oman.

To free the skyline from the carrier points of the construction, the project mainly bases on an enormous structural dome which spreads in the space as a flower taking root at the center of the island. This flower consists, in fact, of 2 coupled spiral domes. Indeed, the convex superior dome is covered with 16 spirals of photovoltaic cells, whereas the concave lower is papered with 16 vegetable spirals.

In the center of this spinning flower, made of laces of steal with Arabic patterns, is situated the agora of Panoramic Majlis which allows to reach every function. In the heart of the project, this mineral and aquatic agora is a haven of peace and freshness which welcomes visitors and guests in an exceptional setting.

To better assume the profiles of the breakwater, these 2 central domes metamorphose in an immense droplet in sustentation. It becomes, from then on, a generous panoramic canopy cantilevered above steams. All the island is protected from the sun to better develop the inter-connectivity between the internal and outer spaces and multiply the roads of walk in this warm and dry country.

To better take advantage of the marine ecosystem, the suites are designed as aquatic lodges built close to the water. They all align themselves respectively with a radial plan bound by an arc of a circle 350 meters in diameter, floating in the sea. Inside this circle, a new coral reef will be cultivated by aquatic gardeners. Besides the fact of benefiting from a total symbiosis with marine fauna and flora, this off-centered establishment allows every suite to take advantage of a total calm, shielded from the noise pollution of the complex.


All around the heart of the flower, spread 3 thematic petals which group together the 3 main functions of the program : the Majlis and its reception hall, the spa and its thermal cure center, and finally the indoor / outdoor swimming pool of fresh water.

These 3 petals are built in overhang on a base welcoming parking lots, logistic premises such as central kitchens and their reserves, technical premises of swimming pools as well as reservoirs of organic substrata necessary for gardens. This layout in balcony allows to strengthen the visual connection between man and sea, and offers fields of sight diving into marine depths.

North petal, the most shaded, is dedicated to the Majlis and its dining-room, overhanging the sea. It offers magnificent views in deep turquoise and emerald colors, towards the horizon. South-East petal shelters the big swimming-pool of fresh water in direct link with the white sand beach protected from prevailing sea currents coming from the North-West. Finally, South-West petal turns itself to the slept of the comforting sun, to implant there Turkish baths, sauna, hammam and other spaces for relaxation.

Between these 3 petals of glass and steel, which are outlined under the concave dome, 3 tropical oasis come to create shaded atmospheres dedicated to stroll. Indeed, palm trees, banana trees, orange trees, and orchids free their aromas for the pleasure of senses. These 3 gardens will particularly allow to filter partially and naturally the water of the aquatic ponds by phyto-purification.


The sensual and dynamic dress of the project «Solar Drop» symbolizes the integration of renewable energies to make of Majlis in Grain Al Aish a new emblem of green architecture in Abu Dhabi !

In this perspective, the solar roof is chiselled of more than 7500 m² of bluish single-crystal solar panels as well as of 2500 m² of plant pillows absorbing the humidity of the air and cooling the complex by evapotranspiration of plants. The Majlis is a building with positive energy ; that is to say producing more energy than it consumes.

In the same overview, the access road in the complex is punctuated with twenty axial wind turbines of Darrieus type which will allow to illuminate in self-sufficiency this breakwater and its accesses, by taking advantage of the strength of prevailing winds.

SOLAR DROP is thus a project eco-conceived from the renewable energies which glorifies the Arabic culture on this bank of the Sea of Oman. It is an ode to the fluidity which militates for the protection of local marine ecosystem and for its development. It is a natural case which hatch within a dry region to propose a unique aquatic experience. It is an oasis of peace and happiness to be shared !



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Vincent Callebaut Architectures
2, rue de la Roquette
75011 Paris


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