I still recall how my first visit to Sumo Sushi & Bento Restaurant turned into an educational trip. When I heard that there is an affordable source of delicious Japanese food in the then newly introduced ‘green city’ (yes, at the desert!), I thought the almost 30 minutes drive from the city center of Abu Dhabi will be worth it. Apparently, the restaurant is inside Masdar Institute (which is technically within the vicinity of Masdar City and few kilometers away from Abu Dhabi International Airport). When we reached the car park, the unplanned educational trip began.
In order to get inside Masdar Institute, we had to park the car and go in one of the driverless cars or Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system stationed at the pods.
It is a great idea to integrate the small 3s (in Arabic numeric) inside the big 3 (English numeric).
From the car park station, we had to select the car which the entry arrow is in green which means it is ready to go; otherwise it is not colored red or amber it is on a ‘charging mode’. Upon pressing the entry arrow, the door opened and we were greeted (voice recorded) by the operator. We had to touch the screen and the car journeyed within 25 kph to 40kph depending on the road curves. How was it being in the car? It felt very comfortable with the leather seats, air-conditioning, and felt sense of security with the sight of fire extinguisher and first aid kid neatly stored within the seats near the foot rest. It was maybe odd, but it also felt a bit ‘back to the near future’ particularly when the screen started talking something like “… it runs on lithium batteries which are powered by solar energy produced at Masdar City and is environmentally friendly. The car is designed by the same design house who did Ferrari’s, Bentley and Ashton Martin.”
Masdar Institute claims that there are magnets embedded in the concrete floor every four meters to help the cars navigate. On the other hand, in order to have a wireless link between the PRT and the computer/machine where it is being operated, an antenna is at the overhead. I assume that it is collision-proof and that they have a disaster recovery plan which had been tested very well.
As we reached the Masdar Institute Station, we were welcomed by a lobby which offers information about the important milestones of Masdar Institute, including its local and international projects. Recently, they have added a model scale of the examples of its projects.
One thing which is noticeable is how the stairs are centrally situated while the lifts/elevators are deliberately hidden. Apparently, this is to encourage walking and reduce the use of energy. Take note that the entire establishment utilizes solar energy.
As we exit the stairs, the central courtyard welcomed us and the center piece instantly grabbed our attention; something which may seem to be alien to some — it is a wind tower!
In the UAE, it is quite common to find traditional Arabic wind towers in some residential areas, old malls and other establishments. These towers are very helpful particularly during summer; the wind towers assist in bringing cold breeze to the ground. What Masdar Institute built though was a modern re-interpretation of the traditional wind towers in the UAE. Infront of Sumo Sushi & Bento Restaurant is the wind tower which is quite tall. The taller it is, the more it can capture the cold upper winds and direct them to the open air courtyard. The sensors at the top of the steel structure allow it to open in the direction of prevailing winds and close the other sides to divert wind downwards. The more prominent contemporary elements are the addition of mist generators at the top to add cooling to the air and its utilization as a tool to test air quality and measure weather.