Wind Tower - An Architectural Element of Local Identity in UAE.
Wind Tower is a traditional architectural element mainly part of residential houses. The function of this tower is to catch cooler breeze that prevail at a higher level above the ground and to direct it into the interior of the buildings. This feature is used in many countries around the Arabian Gulf.
In UAE, almost all the buildings are airconditioned and the need for a funtional wind tower has ceased to exist, but it was an essential element in many houses a few decades ago. In the past even some houses built out of date palm leaves were provided with the wind towers constructed with the same material. Although at present wind tower is not a necessity, it is considered as an element of local identity and can be seen in contemporary buildings, only as an architectural feature.
The above Fig.2 shows a portion of the old quarters of Dubai. A few years back this area had been renovated under a conservation project. The wooden elements are added new. The buildings within this area are currently occupied by small shops, selling mainly traditional items and some are small storage spaces. On one side of these buildings is the busy creek with dozens of small boats (abras) transporting people to the opposit side.
Fig. 3 shows a contemporary shopping centre in Sharjah, the third largest emirate of UAE's seven emirates. This building consists of two long blocks and each has a central concourse with shops on both sides on two levels. This concourse is covered with high vaulted roof. Wind towers had been provided at regular intervals here. Originally, the concourse was not air-conditioned and the wind towers were open. Recently, the openings were closed and the concourse had been fully air-conditioned.