URBAN CONTEXT AND CONCEPTCairo has become the largest urban center not only in Africa, but also in the Middle East. In recent decades this led to a massive concentration process, with the result that Cairo today is not only the capital of Egypt but also its economic, social, service and administrative center, with estimated 8 million inhabitants in the city proper, and around 18 million in the metropolitan area. The city's sheer size and its rapid growth have resulted in serious problems in most aspects of the life of its population.The government has attempted both to decentralize the metropolitan area, to redirect population growth and activities away from Cairo and to reorganize and manage its growth at the national, regional, and local levels.New cities, satellite or independent, were developed as growth centers in order to attract economic activities and population from the core region. These cities are situated along the major regional radials which connect the greater Cairo region to other economically significant regions such as Suez, Ismailia, and Alexandria. Their size is intended to be large enough to guarantee an adequate level of self-sufficiency in terms of employment and services. If these settlements continue to grow at the same rate, an extensive urban corridor may appear in a few years along these regional radial roads, and a new megalopolitan area may emerge. Such a metropolitan area would house almost half of the Egyptian population.The task of our project is to create a focal point, an instantly recognizable landmark of one part of the above mentioned urban development in an area called New Cairo, south-west of the city center of Cairo. The new settlements need to establish their own urban identity and identification points to avoid the risk of just being faceless and exchangeable.ARCHITECTURAL CONCEPTThe outer skin of the building consists of three-dimensionally deformed steel frames covered with stainless steel or aluminum panels, in order to create a building envelope which will be instantly recognizable even if just seen for seconds out of a moving car.The shadow created by the cantilever of the building volume of the Automotive Showroom Mall itself provides a pleasant climate in the nearby plaza.Functional Concept and CirculationThe Silver Cloud is a fluid and continuous museum space, in which the cars, exhibited like art objects, are experienced while walking along the spiral.The building floor plan is organized in a double loop which forms a large spiral, connecting all public areas of the building. Along the way several resting areas with look-outs are situated. However, visitors can arrange their own tours by using a number of additional ramps and escalators in order to access certain exhibition spaces directly.The functional and organizational concept allows for a maximum of sellable floor space together with high flexibility. The exhibition areas are conceived as a open free span flexible space, allowing for all kinds of exhibition and circulation concept according to the changing requirements of the car exhibition. All areas are accessible for cars without the need for cargo elevators.Due to the climatic situation of the site, direct sunlight is only allowed in the atrium skylight, as well as in the look-out areas and in the rest zones, thereby also establishing sight connections between the outside and the inside, which creates continuously changing impressions of the building during the course of the day and the night. Cars are challenging objects for a perfect lighting concept, which is why the car exhibition areas are additionally equipped with an artificial lighting system.The project combines the following functions inside one single spatial continuum, with synergetic effects of functionality and spatial richness:" car exhibition spaces, show stage and auditorium" business center and cinema complex" food court and cafés" base for parking, delivery and disposalEnvironmental, Energy & Building Services ConceptsThe overall environmental strategies aim at energy efficient design and reduce reliance on fossil fuel energy sources. The specific structure of the building skin minimizes the solar heat gain within the building, but at the same time enables the use of natural daylight inside where required, and also harvests solar energy which in turn is used for the conditioning of the interior spaces.On account of their use practically all the spaces have to be mechanically ventilated or air conditioned to comply with international ambience quality standards. All-air VAV-systems are employed. The body heat of the users is a major contributor to the room cooling load; the number of users also determines the amount of fresh air to be provided, so that the load-dependant reductions in the supply volume, which are possible with a variable volume system, provide a large energy saving potential. Supply air is ducted from the air handling units located in the basement and delivered near floor level into the spaces. Return air is extracted where possible via the light fittings, thus removing also a large proportion of the heat from the lighting itself before it becomes a load on the space. The "ribs" are used for the distribution of air duct routes. Highly efficient low pressure air systems employing energy recovery systems are provided. The use of multiple air handling plant rooms and connections between the main supply ducts fitted with dampers, which can be opened in the event of failure of an air handling plant, provides a reasonable measure of stand-by reserve.The building is effectively cooled by solar energy. Thermal collectors integrated into the roof surface provide warm water which is used to drive an energy recovery wheel in a solar cooling process. This solution is highly energy efficient and environmentally sustainable; it has also the additional benefit that no visually obtrusive heat rejection plant, associated with a conventional cooling systems, is necessary.The building envelope is designed to capture and maximize the use of controlled diffuse daylight while minimizing excessive heat gain. This method of lighting the spaces is highly energy efficient: not only can the electrical energy required for artificial lighting be drastically reduced, but also the respective cooling energy consumption for lighting is far lower, because the ratio between light output and heat gain is better than with artificial light sources.The roof is used to collect rainwater, which is stored and used for garden irrigation and, after treatment, for toilet flushing.For the incoming high voltage electrical intakes from the public supply network, the associated switchgear and high voltage distribution, along with the transformers and low voltage panels, are located on the first underground level. An integrated security system is provided including CCTV (close circuit television) surveillance of public areas, full function access control at selected entrances and lifts and central monitoring equipment within a security/reception desk in the main lobby. A complete Building Management System (BMS) is provided consisting of multiple Direct Digital Control (DDC) data processing outstations and a central management system.