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Wind Tower - An Architectural Element of Local Identity in UAE.

Updated on September 10, 2007
Fig.1 A Wind Tower
Fig.1 A Wind Tower


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 In the past even some houses built out of date palm leaves were provided with the wind towers constructed with the same material.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.

2. A Building with Wind Tower, Old area of Dubai, Near Creek.
2. A Building with Wind Tower, Old area of Dubai, Near Creek.

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.

3. View of A Modern Shopping Complex in Sharjah at Night. Wind Tower has been used only as an architectural element to give the Building a Local Character. (Photo from Wikipedia)
3. View of A Modern Shopping Complex in Sharjah at Night. Wind Tower has been used only as an architectural element to give the Building a Local Character. (Photo from Wikipedia)

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.

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      realy usfull

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      My new green home will have one at least. Wonder why it never caught on in South Africa? Brit architecture, I suppose. Cool house, no cost.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for your brief introduction of Wind Tower. I saw it in person when I visited in Dubai for my honeymoon. That was just interesting but now it really attracts me especially in terms of wind power. I imagine it could be transformed to sth more functional in addition to the original purpose.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      wind power

    • PierAllegro profile image


      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I've seen those but I was unsure as to their purpose. Thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      Architects North Wales 

      8 years ago

      I watched a documentary on the wind towers and it is just astonishing engineering involved. It is always a pleasure watching an initial design progress into reality.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I think There is a mistake here..

      You mentioned PERSAIN GULF ,arabian gulf!!!!!

      these air traps that we are study about are one of the elements of vernacular architecure of IRAN ..

      If you have a brief look at the history of Iranian Traditionall Arcchitecture you will find out that first there was an ancient civilization called Persians . . they invented and createde suc elements :)

      plz correct the information above after gathering true information

      Many Thanks .. M.S Architecture student ..

    • qatarvisitor profile image


      11 years ago from Qatar

      Here in Qatar there is only one left- one real one, anyway, there are lots of fake ones. I wish people still used them - they would bring down electricity costs hugely. I wonder if, as oil supplies decrease, they will ever come back into use.


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