Masdar Calligraphy – Abu Dhabi


Client : Masdar City + LAGI/ Abu Dhabi UAE

Type : urban design/cultural

Status : competition / idea

Year : 2019

Budget : 7.961.138,40 USD

Acknoledgements: shortlisted

Technical Data

Total nameplate power of the Site : 411 kWp

Total year production: 519.648 kWh/yr

LAGI 2019 Abu Dhabi “Return to the Source”  invited creatives to design an iconic concept for a landmark site within Masdar City, Abu Dhabi using renewable energy technology as a medium of creative expression to provide on-site energy production consistent with the master plan of the city.

Masdar is the Arabic word for “source.” As the name of Abu Dhabi’s multifaceted renewable energy company and most ambitious low-carbon development, it is a reference to the Sun, the source of energy that sustains life on Earth, drives the wind and waves, and that over millions of years powered the transfer of ancient carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and into the ground, creating a climate habitable to humans.

Masdar City’s Goal: to have a feasable and constructable design concept pushing the boundaries of what is possible using today’s renewable energy technologies. To do so a capital cost restriction has been imposed as part of the design brief. Therefore the budget of each proposal had to respect the maximum estimated cost of 20.00 USD per watt installed.

A-oma’s Goal: to continue our research on the cooperation, at the urban scale, between private and public spaces in the production of renewable energy. The site of Masdar had for us an outstanding potentiality considering its central location in the region and the future needs – in terms of energy consumption – of the city of Abu Dhabi. In order to set a cultural link with the region we took our inspiration from the Arabic Script (see more details below).

Intro. Calligraphy is considered the quintessential art form of the Islamic world and its prevalence is not simply related to its non-figural tradition; it rather reflects the centrality of writing and written text, as according the tradition “the first thing God created was the pen”. Real “source” of the Islamic culture, calligraphy is revered as a medium of infinite duration and visual expression of faith and knowledge. It is noteworthy that the United Arabic Emirates host every other year the Dubai International Calligraphy Exhibition as the climax of the cultural scene of the year, as well as the outcome of the region’s social identity. With our proposal, then, we envision a fertile dialogue between Dubai and Abu Dhabi under the aegis of the Arabic script that we use as a “source” inspiration for our landart work. As the Islamic calligraphy has developed a vaste range of styles we decided to assign a representative style to each of the two areas of the site. The Square Kufic (kufi mrabba’) to the north west area as the link to the past and a more curvilinear contemporary Naskh-like style to the south-east as the link to the future. The whole forms a unique rectangular layout: the Masdar Calligraphy.

The kufilab: a labyrinth and a laboratory of energy. The North-West area of the site hosts the Kufilab an installation of roughly 2318 m² originated by the vertical extrusion of a urban-scale Kufic text creating a sort of outdoor labyrinth with chambers. The hemstitch roof and the elevations are cladded with modular colored solar panels produced by the Dutch company Kamaleon Solar. The result is a monumental and extremely modular complex taking advantage from the geometric regularity of the Kufic style. The interiors are characterized by a series of “open chambers” carved in the mass of the volume. Each chamber presents one of the historical developments of the art of script both in the past as in the future. The quite infinite range of paths allows a non-conventional discovery of the Islamic calligraphy that can be adjusted year after year.

The Wind Pipes Park: producing and saving energy. The South-East area accommodates a lawn punctuated by 85 curvilinear characters and a series of orange dot-like elements for power storage. Each of the character is composed by a vertical pipe and a curvilinear base. On top of each of the 25 m high pipes there is a 2.40 m high VAWT produced by the company WINDSIDE. While creating a playful urban space composed by circular spaces, the aim of each of this element is twofold:

1) Produce energy with the VAWTs;

2) Create a passive system of Canadian wells;

The Eolic system has a nameplate power of 259 Wp and a production of more or less 21 218 kWh per year (see more details in the next paragraphs).

The Canadian well system works as follows: below the VAWT an air intake lets air into the hollow pipe. A series of small fans draw the air to the ground while gradually cooling it. After the circular base the pipes go 3m below ground following a path of at least 30 m in order to reach the dew point at the stable temperature of 15° C. The humidity contained into the air is condensed and stocked into several tanks below ground to be used for irrigation purposes, while the cooled air is injected to the close-by buildings.


Budget, energy production and costs

The Kufilab

Te Kufilab has been conceived with a 1mx1m modular grid and it will be realized with the following main materials:

Prefabricated concrete walls (1.00 m x 8.00 m x 0.16 m) tinted in the mass

Photovoltaic Solar Panels Kamaleon Solar Color Blast.

Deactivated concrete slabs


The exterior surfaces are cladded with modular panels (1m x1m) with an overall surface of 3892 m². The panels used are ColorBlast of Kamaleon Solar ( We involved the company from the early stage of conception and we can declare the following data:


Average Nameplate Power: 100 Wp per 1mx1m panel


Kufilab Nameplate Power: 389kW


Budget: 3892(m²) x 100(Wp) x20 ($)= 7.784.000 $


Year Production: 498.218 kWh/yr (conservative estimate)


Divided according the following table provided by the experts of Kamaleon Solar.


AZIMUTH (128°) AZIMUTH (128°) AZIMUTH (218°) AZIMUTH (308°) AZIMUTH (38°) AZIMUTH (38°)
M² (1X1M) kWh/yr M² (1X1M) kWh/yr M² (1X1M) kWh/yr M² (1X1M) kWh/yr M² (1X1M) kWh/yr M² (1X1M) kWh/yr
PINK 142 25503 121 11015 96 5978 359 42495
FUCSIA 249 41525 42 3824 16 996 87 5418 394 51763
BLUE 260 43360 31 1930 291 45290
LIGHT BLUE 180 30019 79 7193 47 4279 23 1433 329 42923
DARK GREEN 224 35633 55 4776 15 934 39 2316 333 43659
ORANGE 208 34688 39 3550 32 1993 279 40230
RED 141 23515 111 10105 40 2491 292 36111
CORAL 153 25516 71 6464 71 4421 104 6476 399 42878
LIGHT GREEN 159 26516 47 4279 142 8843 8 499 356 40136
LIGHT PINK 147 24515 111 10105 23 1433 8 499 289 36551
CYAN 183 30519 39 3550 48 4370 40 2491 310 40930
YELLOW 173 28851 32 2914 56 3488 261 35253
TOTAL 2219 370159 276 25126 566 51296 267 16626 564 35010 3892 498218


Typology quantity unit cost ($) Total
Wall Concrete 4121 m3 108 445.068,00 USD
Wall Steel 166,4 t 936 155.750,40 USD
Formworks 50 unit 300 15.000,00 USD
Deactivated Concrete Slabs+ Finishing 2318 150 347.700,00 USD
Foundations Concrete 1391 m3 108 150.228,00 USD
Foundations Steel 209 t 936 195.624,00 USD
Excavation Works  + Transportation 2318 m3 50 115.900,00 USD
Pv panel 3892 700 2.724.400,00 USD
Power storage + management 498218 kWh/yr 1 498.218,00 USD
Interior decoration gross estimation 500.000,00 USD
Installation +Labor cost gross estimation 540.000,00 USD


The Wind Pipes Park


The Wind Pipes park is composed by 85 letter-like elements. Following the list of the main materials:

25 m high hollow steel pipes

VAWT WS-60 produced by the company WINDSIDE (

Subterranean PVC pipes

Concrete Tanks for water storage


The energy production is estimated as follows:


Nameplate Power of each Windside module: 259 Wp (according the WS-60 technical sheet)


Nameplate Power of The Park: 259 x 85 = 22 kWp


Budget: 85(units) x 259(Wp) x20 ($)= 440 300 $


Year Production: according the experts of WINDSIDE each element can produce 250 kWh/ year with an overall production for the Park of 21.250 kWh/yr


Typology quantity unit cost ($) Total
25 Steel pipes 85 unit 16500 1.402.500,00 USD
WINDSIDE WS-60 VAWT 85 unit 700 59.500,00 USD
Power Storages 21250 kwh/yr 1 21.250,00 USD
Subterranean PVC Pipes gross estimation 15.000,00 USD
Excavation Works  + Transportation 11000 m3 50 550.000,00 USD
Tanks for wateer storage gross estimation 25.000,00 USD
Installation + Labour Cost gross estimation 200.000,00 USD




Total Nameplate power of the Site : 411 kWp

Total year production: 519.648 kWh/yr


The Budget Max for the site is 7 784 000,00 + 440 300,00= 8.220.300,00 $

The overall Cost estimate for the site is 5.687.888,40+ 2.273.250,00 = 7.961.138,40 $