MVRDV reveal designs for their inaugural project in the United Arab Emirates, Pixel, a 76,000m2 residential development, incorporating over 15,000m2 of commercial and retail space, scheduled for completion in 2020 and forming part of Abu Dhabi’s Makers District, an 18-hectare masterplan community development by IMKAN Properties, opposite the Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District. The project mixes work, living and various lifestyles around a central pedestrianised plaza.


Location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Year: 2017+

Client: IMKAN

Program: 76,000m² mixed-use building with 480 apartments, retail, offices, makers and community spaces.

Budget: Undisclosed


Pixel is a dynamic 76,000m2 residential development with retail, office, makers and community spaces, offering 480 apartments of various sizes and features. The project is part of a large-scale district level development by RNL design called Makers District, being the precedent for advanced community-based development, positioning itself as the new heart of Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE.

As such, Pixel represents a new way of approaching neighbourhoods, communities, the way of living, the way of working. Based on a research of possible residential models, we selected together with the client the "mini-tower" configuration, which resulted in spreading 7 mid-rise, relatively slim towers around the plot, influenced by the local conditions (sun and wind) and providing the most view around for most apartments. The 7 buildings embrace a fully pedestrianised, activated plaza, which is accessible from all directions around the plot (as it is the heart of the neighbourhood), while maintaining a volumetric direction to bring a larger flow of people from the adjacent beach, marina and public event place “The Artery” designed by the Danish firm,  Bjarke Ingels Group: BIG towards the city.

Pixel is beyond a traditional residential project with amenities and service that includes retail, co-working, makers, community spaces, from the smallest unit of 50 sqm available for rent for start-up businesses. The breakdown of the volume around the public plaza is engaging in this spirit. It forms individual, but flexible use units on the ground floor, first and second floor, and turns into shaded outdoor terraces interlocked with apartments on the upper floors. The typical “penthouse” approach is redefined as well: the Makers Village, honest to its spirit, offers studio apartments available for young generation on every level, and some of the more luxurious large apartments are located facing the lively central plaza on the third to fifth floors.

The seven towers along the plot perimeter form a solid composition, complete with sober facade design. Only after entering the project, reveals itself to visitors and residents.

In the material selection, we emphasise the natural and honest spirit of the project. We use pure concrete and ceramics on the facade. There is an intended difference between the finishing level of the concrete at the perimeter and the cascading facade: - the rough and patterned balancing the refined and smooth.

The use of the ceramics in various shades, pattern or colour gives the opportunity to work together with artists, which will give the final touch to the project.

Completion of Pixel is set for 2020.


Architect: MVRDV

Principal in charge: Jacob van Rijs

Design Team: Stefan de Koning and Edina Peli, Ronald Hoogeveen with Mariya Gyaurova, Akshey Krishna Venkatesh, Kristin Schaefer, Katarzyna Nowak, Kevin Loftus,  Luca Vacchini, Mirco Facchinelli, Meng Yang, Katarzyna Plonka and Ole Allin Egebaek

Visualization: Antonio Luca Coco, Paolo Mossa Idra, Costanza Cuccato, Davide Calabro, Pavlos Ventouris, Kirill Emelianov, Tomaso Maria Maschietti, Massimiliano Marzoli and Giovanni Coni

Copyright: MVRDV 2018 – (Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries)  


Co-Architects: Dewan Architects + Engineers

Engineering and Project Management: Ramboll Middle East

Cost Control: Turner & Townsend

Landscape and public realm design: Bjarke Ingels Group BIG

Images: MVRDV

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