Foster + Partnerrs, Sustainable architecture, Architecture exhibition

Foster + Partner's completed, proposed, and under-construction projects in the Middle East and North Africa

UK architecture giant Foster + Partner's first Dubai exhibition reflects on the firm's sustainable design solutions on a global scale, many of which are located in the Middle East, including projects such as the Masdar City master plan and the Mobility Pavilion for Expo 2020 Dubai.

Here, we take a look at the practice's architecture from across the region, highlighting a total of 16 projects, from completed buildings, concept designs, to those that are currently under construction. 

Here is the full list: 

Aswan Hospital

New Aswan, Egypt, 2018 

Aswan Hospital is a heart medical facility on the banks of the Nile, designed as a densely planted oasis that seeks to enhance patient experience and promote wellbeing. Set within a lush, verdant landscape, the hospital and research centre are flanked by homes for staff, and conference facilities. Together, this sustainable community seeks to enable the Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation to further its tri-part mission in order to provide life-saving care, advance medical research and train a new generation of Egyptian doctors and nurses. 

UAE Pavilion Milan Expo

Milan, Italy 2013 – 2015

The national pavilion for the United Arab Emirates at the 2015 Milan Expo explored the planning principles of the traditional desert city, with the pavilion’s interior of self-shaded streets evoking the experience of the UAE’s ancient communities, while demonstrating the natural energy efficiency of their compact urban form. Entered through a canyon-like space and defined by two undulating 12-metre-high walls, the exhibition trail culminated in a green oasis. Most significantly, the building was designed to be recycled. The GRC wall panels were supported by a steel frame, which has been demounted and is being reconstructed for the pavilion’s relocation in the UAE. 

Mobility Pavilion

Expo 2020 Dubai, Dubai 2015 – 2020

Foster + Partners is designing one of the three signature pavilions for the 2020 Dubai Expo, based on the theme of Mobility. The pavilion occupies a dedicated plaza at the south entrance to the site and will have a lively, dynamic landscape conceived as a fairground with undulating tracks and demonstration areas for the latest technological innovations related to mobility. Internally, the key display areas are divided into three zones, each forming a petal in the tri-foil plan. An expression of the dynamic nature of mobility, the façade features a series of horizontal stainless-steel fins that wrap around the building. The building is designed to achieve a LEED Gold rating and will be repurposed as a high-quality office building as part of the wider legacy plan for Expo 2020 Dubai. 

Apple Dubai Mall, UAE

Dubai, UAE 2015 – 2017



Engaging with the spectacle of urban life, Apple Dubai Mall is an innovative response to the culture and climate of the Emirates, while also demonstrating Apple’s pioneering ambition to create inspirational civic spaces. Reinterpreting the traditional Arabic mashrabiya, ‘Solar Wings’ gently shade the outside terrace during the day and open during the evening to reveal the ‘best seat in the house’ with views over the waterside promenade and fountains. With their movement path inspired by a falcon spreading its wings, the ‘Solar Wings’ integrate kinetic art and engineering.

The Villas

Abu Dhabi, UAE 2009 – 2011

The Villas proposal for Abu Dhabi combine sustainable design with an efficient, modular system for the large-scale production of individual homes. The result is a new luxury-driven model for contemporary living. Inspired by the climate and culture of the region, the villas’ design is based on an adaptable ‘kit-of-parts’ system to suit a variety of settings – the details and finishes can be individually selected, so that each home is tailored to the lifestyle and preferences of its owner. By using pre-fabricated components, the system eliminates both a reliance on unskilled labour and the large volumes of waste produced during construction.

Seven Gardens

Dubai, UAE 2013 – 2020

The under-construction Seven Gardens is a new luxury hotel and residential development in Business Bay, located between Downtown Dubai and the Dubai Design District. Situated on the edge of the Marasi Marina, the new waterfront project is planned to become a major destination in Dubai. The building derives its name from the seven vertical gardens that are the environmental and social focus of the design. Each garden creates a new lifestyle experience with the aim of enriching the lives of the guests and residents. The building gives back to the city by creating new public spaces and a host of sustainable features, with the ambition of achieving a LEED Gold rating.

BMCE Bank branches

Morocco, 2007 – 2011

Banque Marocaine du Commerce Exterieur (BMCE) is one of Morocco’s leading banks. Prompted by a desire to transform the experience of high-street banking for its customers, the Bank commissioned a series of flagship branches. Their design follows a modular, thematic approach, with variations in scale and landscaping in response to the different locations. While the branches in Casablanca and Rabat reflect their compact sites in the financial and civic centres on Morocco’s coast, the Fez branch has subtle details that express the city’s artisanal heritage. The branches are designed to be energy efficient, combining modern technology with centuries-old methods of passive climate control.

Masdar City

Abu Dhabi, UAE 2007– 2014

Masdar City explores sustainable technologies and the planning principles of traditional Arab settlements to create a desert community that is aimed to be carbon neutral and zero waste. The 640-hectare project is a key component of the Masdar Initiative, established by the government of Abu Dhabi to advance the development of renewable energy and clean-technology. The Masdar Institute is the first phase of the city to be completed and is a graduate-level, research-driven university with a focus on sustainable technologies. Embodying the principles of the wider development, the Institute’s campus has been built to consume half the amount of electricity and water as equivalent buildings, with all power generated on site.

Masdar Institute

Masdar City, Abu Dhabi 2007–2015

The Masdar Institute is the first part of the wider Masdar City masterplan to be realised and creates an educational focus for the entire programme. The Institute embodies the principles and goals of Masdar to create a prototypical and sustainable city and is the first building of its kind to be powered entirely by renewable solar energy. The design incorporates a variety of passive and active environmental strategies and will be used as a test-bed for the sustainable technologies that will be explored for implementation in future Masdar City buildings.

Kuwait International Airport

Kuwait City, 2010 – 2020

The terminal has a trefoil plan, comprising three symmetrical wings of departure gates. It balances the enclosure of this vast area with a design that is highly legible at a human scale; for simplicity and ease of use there are few level changes. To further aid orientation, the building is planned under a single roof canopy, punctuated by glazed openings that filter daylight, while deflecting solar radiation. Targeting LEED Gold certification, it aims to be the first passenger terminal in the world to attain this level of environmental accreditation and combines the thermal properties of the concrete structure with a large expanse of roof-mounted photovoltaic panels to harvest solar energy.

Queen Alia International Airport

Amman, Jordan 2005 – 2013

Serving as the main gateway to Amman, the design of Queen Alia International Airport resonates with a sense of place and local culture. In response to local building expertise and the climate, where summer temperatures vary markedly between daytime and night time, the building is constructed entirely from concrete, the high thermal mass of the material providing passive environmental control. The project is planned to increase capacity from 3 million to 12.8 million passengers per annum by 2030.

Haramain High Speed Rail

Various cities, Saudi Arabia, 2009 – 2018

The Haramain High-speed Railway is a major infrastructure project for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, connecting the cities of Makkah, Madinah, Jeddah and the developing King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC). The modular approach to the stations’ design is complemented by variations in colour, which signify the four cities while remaining emblematic of the HHR system. Drawing on Islamic architecture, the design concept takes the traditional gateway arch form as the basis for its roof design. The glazed entrances to the concourse and the platforms are concealed behind a combination of external mashrabiya and the deep overhanging roof canopies.

ICD Brookfield Place

Dubai, UAE 2014 – 2019

ICD Brookfield Place is a 1.5 million square foot office and retail development located in the heart of the Dubai International Financial Centre district (DIFC). The mixed-use development includes a 53-storey tower that comprises office spaces adjacent to a substantial retail centre with shopping, dining, fitness, and private club facilities, alongside a civic plaza ; creating a new social focus for the city. The distinctive form of the office tower derives from structural and environmental conditions. The composite structural frame of the building optimises the use of steel and concrete, while using reinforced concrete in the low-rise retail and entertainment building as it is a cost-effective local material.

World Trade Center Souk

Abu Dhabi, UAE 2006 – 2014



Abu Dhabi’s Central Market is one of the oldest sites in the city. Inspired by the traditional architecture of the Gulf this scheme aims to reinvent the market place, giving the city a new civic heart. As a shopping experience it combines luxury goods boutiques with food markets and craft-based trades. Like the traditional souk, these different experiences are brought together in an interior architecture of dappled sunlight through openable courtyard roofs, bright colours and fountains, with a changing rhythm of squares, courtyards and alleyways. Open night and day, these new spaces provide an important central venue in the city during festivals and celebrations and are cooled naturally when conditions allow.

Reem Island

Abu Dhabi, UAE 2008 – 2018

The two landmark residential towers on the island are located on the main pedestrian boulevard running parallel to the Grand Canal. As well as helping define the skyline of the new development, the towers animate the ground plane with two retail podiums, which connect to the pedestrian boulevard. Their form has evolved in response to the climate, as well as a desire to give residents the best possible views. The buildings are tilted on the site at a fifty-degree angle to establish a more solid eastern and western façade and to prevent solar gain, with glazed southern and northern façades.

The Index

Dubai, UAE 2005 – 2011

Located on a prominent corner site within the Dubai International Finance Centre, The Index is a continuation of Foster + Partners’ exploration of the skyscraper in the twenty-first century forming a mixed-use tower with 520 residential units above 25 floors of office spaces. The distinctive form is generated by a desire to reveal the structural system and internal organisation of the tower. It is orientated east to west to maximise views over the financial centre, coastline and the desert beyond. This orientation also reduces solar gain, as the building’s core mass absorbs heat and reduces its reliance on mechanical ventilation. A system of sunshades shelters the interiors on the south elevation.

Jabal Omar

Makkah, Saudi Arabia 2017 

Jabal Omar Development is a new luxury hotel and serviced apartments complex in the heart of Makkah. Inspired by traditional Arab architecture, its design reinterprets the traditional dense building clusters, creating a new contemporary vernacular that respects its sacred location. Following the mountainous terrain, its cascading vertical elements form a new topography as well as framing views from the hotel rooms. The new mixed-use development will create a new gateway along the route to the Grand Mosque for pilgrims from the world over.

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