Building The Gate

Nick Ames takes a trip to Abu Dhabi to view the latest towering addition to the landscape – and learn how history inspired its creation

American architects from Arquitectonica looked back before the dawn of recorded history when they sourced inspiration towards the design of a very 21st century structure.

The monument of Stonehenge in the English countryside – standing stones topped with horizontal hewn and shaped boulders – is one of the world’s most remarkable prehistoric monuments. Its purpose and how it was erected remain unknown right up to this day.

And it was a major influence for the Gate Towers, a three tower roof-connected mixed-use development in the heart of Shams Abu Dhabi on Al Reem Island.

Aldar Properties a development, investment, and management company, has now opened up the buildings with residents currently moving in.

“This marks the start of another important delivery cycle for Aldar, as we deliver more than 7,000 quality units into the market over the next 12 months,” said Aldar deputy CEO, Mohammad Al Mubarak.

“The Gate Towers is one of Abu Dhabi’s most iconic developments – with its eye-catching design and prominent positioning we are confident that our customers will be very pleased with the quality of the completed development.”

He added that the development shows how demand for top quality accommodation in the emirate is on the rise.

The Gate Towers has 3,533 units and includes studios, one, two, and three-bedroom apartments, as well as townhouses and penthouses withviews of the Arabian Gulf and Abu Dhabi skyline.

Speaking at an official unveiling Aldar staff said: “We were strongly influenced by the Stonehenge monument because it is such a dramatic feature on the landscape.”

Arquitectonica said the design is intended to create a “welcoming yet imposing” gateway to the larger development of Shams Abu Dhabi, with its series of residential towers acting as pillars supporting a sky bridge spanning each of the towers. The only contemporary structure comparable is Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore .

Currently, debate exists as to which building was the pioneer.

Marina Bay certainly was open before Gate Towers – but the Abu Dhabi building’s backers insist they had the idea for the structure first.

The project joins Aldar’s Sun and Sky Towers on Shams Abu Dhabi, which are now home to more than 1,000 families and businesses, and include a Waitrose Supermarket.

The building was inspired by Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, 13 km north of the city of Salisbury. It is part of the folklore of the nation -playing a starring role in TV shows such as Dr Who and hosting music festivals and ceremonial events.

It is the remains of a ring of standing stones, several still capped, set within earthworks in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in Europe, Archaeologists believe it was built from 3,000 BC to 2,000 BC but radiocarbon dating has not been any more precise.

The site was added to the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986. Various theories as to its purpose include a temple and some stones align with the rising and setting of the sun at notable points in the year.