Mixed-use complexes are nothing new in the field of contemporary architecture, with their combined usage patterns encompassing residential as well as commercial spaces. However, Cairo’s Gate Residence, designed by Vincent Callebaut Architectures (VCA), is not only about its circulation and habitable ambit; the grand building will also boast of a flurry of green technologies fused with vernacular components – and they will entail geothermal cooling, solar panels, wind turbines and even tradition-inspired wind catchers.
The core design of the Gate Residence is based on the principles of Passivhaus, and as such the very scope of the expansive building is tailored towards energy reduction via passive means. To that end, the complex is conceptualized as a ‘synchronized structure’ that would keep up with the beneficial effects of micro-climate, orientation, local landscaping and even the prevalent solar-cycle. According to the architects, the incorporation of such electricity-independent aspects can reduce the overall energy usage by a whopping 50 percent. Moreover, the residents will be given the option of controlling their own preferred levels of temperature and ventilation via advanced home automation components.
As for the applications of low-impact green technology, one of the stand-out features would obviously pertain to the vernacular wind catcher – a historically evolved mechanism that helps in guiding air from outside into the building’s interior. This enhanced airflow ambit will be further complemented by the use of geothermal energy systems that will pump air to the surface after it has passed through subterranean levels, thus accounting for cool air distribution during summer and warm air availability during winter.
The regular renewable setups will entail installation of photovoltaic panels on the rooftop, along with positioned vertical-axis wind turbines – and they would both generate clean electricity. These systems will be accompanied by direct solar gain mechanisms placed atop the roof that would be used for heating water with the help of dedicated glass-metal tubes.
Finally, coming to the visual as well as the energy-saving ‘piece de resistance’ of the Gate Residence, this scope will entail the glorious greenery on the roof consisting of a full-fledged vegetable garden. These verdant spaces extend downwards as green wall-facades with improved insulation capacities. And, the best part is – the architects have also envisaged the roof-top garden as a collective social area where the residents can interact with each other while growing their produce.