New housing is coming to Times Square, at least temporarily. The Virginia Tech team of students and faculty behind the FutureHAUS, which won the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018, a competition supported by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and U.S. Department of Energy, will bring a new iteration of its solar-powered home to New York for New York Design Week in collaboration with New York City–based architects DXA Studio. The first Dubai iteration was a 900-square-foot prefab home, that, in addition to being entirely solar powered, featured 67 “futuristic devices,” centered around a few core areas including, according to the team’s website: “entertainment, energy management, aging-in-place, and accessibility.” This included everything from gait recognition for unique user identities and taps that put out precise amounts of water given by voice control to tables with integrated displays and AV-outfitted adjustable rooms. One of the home’s biggest innovations, however, is its cartridge system, developed over the past 20 years by Virginia Tech professor Joe Wheeler. The home comprises a number of prefabricated blocks or "cartridges"—a series of program cartridges includes the kitchen and the living room, and a series of service cartridges contained wet mechanical space and a solar power system. The spine cartridge integrates all these various parts and provides the “central nervous system” to the high-tech house. These all form walls or central mechanical elements that then serve as the central structure the home is built around, sort of like high-tech LEGO blocks. The inspiration behind the cartridges came from the high-efficiency industrial manufacturing and assembly line techniques of the automotive and aerospace industries and leveraged the latest in digital fabrication, CNC routing, robotics, and 3D printing all managed and operated through BIM software. Once the cartridges have been fabricated, assembly is fast. In New York it will take just three days to be packed, shipped, and constructed, “a testament to how successful this system of fabrication and construction is,” said Jordan Rogove, a partner DXA Studio, who is helping realize the New York version of the home. The FutureHAUS team claims that this fast construction leads to a higher-quality final product and ends up reducing cost overall. The cartridge system also came in handy when building in New York with its notoriously complicated permitting process and limited space. “In Dubai an eight-ton crane was used to assemble the cartridges,” explained Rogove. “But to use a crane in Times Square requires a lengthy permit process and approval from the MTA directly below. Thankfully the cartridge system is so versatile that the team has devised a way to assemble without the crane and production it would've entailed.” There have obviously been some alterations to the FutureHAUS in New York. For example, while in Dubai there were screen walls and a courtyard with olive trees and yucca, the Times Square house will be totally open and easy to see, decorated with plants native to the area. The FutureHAUS will be up in Times Square for a week and a half during New York’s design week, May 10 through May 22.
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In a recent review titled “The Case Against Hudson Yards Dining” on Eater, the inimitable food critic Ryan Sutton examined the food and beverage options at the mirage-like, instant Hudson Yards (henceforth Little Dubai), New York City’s newest neighborhood. The dining scene is not a pretty picture, and the food options are just part of the bigger picture, dovetailing with the urbanism to expose the ugliness of 21st-century development culture. As Sutton notes, Little Dubai “is a taxpayer-subsidized development that solidifies Manhattan’s slow transformation from one of the world’s most distinctive urban centers into a nondescript international mall for the wealthy.” His biggest gripe? Rather than representing the wonderful melange of cultures that thrive in New York, the food and beverage programming is a cynical commercialized selection that has no roots in the place it resides. “The only place for pizza—New York’s quintessentially affordable street food—will be a D.C.-based chain where a lunchtime Margherita starts at $11.50. The only Chinese-leaning restaurant will be an ‘East meets West’ spot run by a Dutch guy known for his competent Continental spots in airports, concert halls, and museums,” he laments. The condition Sutton describes could easily be in a number of cities around the world, where international flavors are imported wholesale and in no particular fashion or relationship to the place they now inhabit. This cultural importation is a new ideology: In an era where financial markets and soft power makes national borders less and less important, it makes sense that a new type of immigrant cultural exchange would begin to take hold—one that no longer even requires physical, transnational immigration. Cultural exchange can now take place on airplanes, waves of capital, and wires of data in an age of nearly frictionless globalization. That is how New York’s newest neighborhood, Little Dubai, got its character. As much as Little Dubai’s food selections should shock us, so should the art and architecture. The art follows a similar path as the food with superstar curators—ubercurator Hans Ulrich Obrist is a senior advisor—brought in to inject the place with some kind of pop-up world-class culture, much like what the UAE did at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, where the name and collection were rubber-clone-stamped from the old world of Europe to the open expanses of the 21st-century Gulf, where anything goes. Or consider Rain Room, the phenomenon that had lines around the block at MoMA in 2013. The Sharjah Art Foundation has not only acquired Rain Room for its permanent collection, but they built an entire new building to house it. This kind of cultural exchange—that of international consultants—relies on enormous amounts of capital to lubricate its mechanisms. No longer does it require, however, actual immigration or imperialism to carry culture from one place to the next, as was the case in the 19th and 20th centuries when neighborhoods like Little Italy’s, Chinatowns, Koreatowns, and Little Ethiopias naturally popped up around the world. Rather than streets of mom-and-pop shops, entire campus-like neighborhoods are instantly animated as breathing lungs of cultural import-export, with nothing to stop them. Which brings us to the architecture of Little Dubai. There are several similarities to Dubai at Hudson Yards. The most obvious is that the towers themselves look like those non-descript condos and offices that make up most of the building stock in Dubai. Moreover, the neighborhood was master planned by KPF, who also crank out towers in the Gulf and Asia more generally. The similarities run deeper, from the food to the development patterns to the urban experience. Like any good enclave, the mechanisms that have produced Little Dubai look a lot like those that produced the original Dubai and its urban environment. This is not to say that Little Dubai necessarily comes from Dubai itself. It is not that simple. In fact, New York and developing nations such as the UAE and China are in a constant feedback loop, where the West exports ideas about managerial production systems such as large architecture firms and the corresponding banal corporate aesthetics. As Michel Foucault once noted,
that while colonization, with its techniques and its political and juridical weapons, obviously transported European models to other continents, it also had a considerable boomerang effect on the mechanisms of power in the West, and on the apparatuses, institutions, and techniques of power. A whole series of colonial models was brought back to the West, and the result was that the West could practice something resembling colonization, or an internal colonialism, on itself.“Firms like KPF and Foster take on these projects overseas where they can grow and practice working as larger firms,” said Todd Reisz, assistant professor at Yale, “Once they get big and good enough, they can bring these ideas about—how to make a city from the ground up—back home.” This is how New York’s Little Dubai came to be. The original Dubai was opened up to private land ownership in 2002 in an attempt to become a stable place post-9/11 for foreigners—especially Middle Easterners, Africans, and South Asians—to park their money. Special economic zones were established that allowed business and development to operate without the strict controls of Shariah that governed the rest of the UAE. In these economic zones, international trade was encouraged by specially crafted civil legal code geared specifically toward port businesses (foreign investment.) For example, a team of international consultants from mega-firm McKinsey advised the Dubai government in 2002 to draft a set of UK-style regulations for the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) free zone, a “state within a state” that would operate with a different official currency—the U.S. dollar— and a different official language—English—than the rest of the UAE. It was designed by none other than architectural behemoth Gensler. This international managerial complex was the logical conclusion of some 300 years of colonial urbanization of developing nations around the world, perfected by the UAE government. Companies like Emaar and Dubai Holdings buy and develop enormous plots of land that serve as self-sustaining neighborhoods that don’t need to have much connection to their surroundings. Because of their sheer size, and the scale of the projects they oversee, these massive companies also obscure the relationship between public and private. In New York’s Little Dubai, a similar situation exists. The New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) acts a bit like the real estate state of the UAE, doing large rezonings and tax incentives to foster these big developments. Nearly 1 billion dollars in tax abatements were given to Related Cos., Little Dubai’s developer, in addition to nearly 4.6 million in infrastructure improvements and other incentives. And often, because of the private nature, DCP has little authority to begin with. Because the development is on state-owned land, there was no oversight from community boards. The parcel became part of a larger economic development strategy that usurps local regulation, leaving the citizens of New York City more-or-less out of the conversation. Little Dubai is regulated by a network of rules and capital that transcends physical territory, just like the “Old World” Dubai in UAE (this model is also being pursued by ultimate cloud-based dark-power-mongers Google in Toronto). This has led to a sort of Free Economic Zone, where Stephen M. Ross, Related’s chairman, is a sort of urban autocrat, pushing through what he wants when he wants. For example, in Little Dubai, Thomas Heatherwick’s 154-staircase monument Vessel was simply ordered for $200 million, shipped from Italy, and fastened together in about 18 months, with little in the way of design review or public process. It is not necessarily a bad thing, but it raises important questions. At 28 acres (0.042 sq miles, or 11 hectares), Little Dubai has the characteristics of an entire neighborhood, with its own circulation paths, central public space, and complete set of programmatic functions from retail, residential, commercial, “cultural,” and leisure/hospitality spaces carefully orchestrated in both plan and section. Dubai is a place where these large private developments have happened so fast that they do not relate to one another on the street-level. The piecemeal nature leaves hotels and malls and gated communities difficult to access because nothing was planned to connect at the street. While Dubai’s infrastructure haphazardly connects these megadevelopments with curls of spaghetti-like roads and onramps, Hudson Yards has similarly managed to bend New York’s infrastructure to its will—the 7 subway line was extended to the northern entrance to Little Dubai’s main plaza. Vessel and its counterpart, The Shed, occupy an important niche in the rich culture of Little Dubai: they serve as the attractors to get tourists to come and play, and thus spend money at retail options. Like the spectacular Dubai Aquarium, Dubai Frame, and man-made islands such as Palm Jumeirah, Vessel acts to bring attention to the place. The High Line is already doing this, but these new spectacles will bring in tourists en masse, possibly so much that this area will be like a cleaner and even less exciting Times Square. This centralization of power—via a marriage of government and private interests—gives power to consultants to plan whole districts, as well as ties together Little Dubai and its namesake (and the other countless cities like it). It should not come as a surprise that this is taking place in New York. In fact, it is a very New York phenomenon, as much of this type of culture was shipped from New York’s office towers (literally and metaphorically.) The process of globalization and the complete control of technocratic consultants has crystallized in spectacular fashion before our eyes in New York’s newest neighborhood, Little Dubai. What remains to be seen is how the local context will absorb this pseudo-neighborhood. What is scary for New Yorkers is that it seems like it is going to fit right into its place at the apex of the Highline.
Not content with only 13 supertall towers, including Santiago Calatrava’s 3,000-plus-foot-tall Dubai Creek Tower, the state-owned Dubai Holding has revealed plans for the 1,804-foot-tall Burj Jumeira. The split-volume tower, which will feature a large void between its two curvilinear masses (resembling an elongated take on Zaha Hadid Architects’ Macau Hotel), will erupt from a pond emblazoned with the fingerprint of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. The Burj Jumeira, not to be confused with the nearby Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel, will be springing up in a new mixed-use neighborhood in Dubai’s Al Sufouh area. “Downtown Jumeira” will hold a mix of residential, office, and commercial buildings, hotels, an amphitheater, space for artists and cultural events, and, judging from the video released by the Dubai Media Office, a fountain inside the fingerprint pool. The tower itself, whose design was reportedly inspired by shifting sand dunes, will be wrapped in an enormous digital screen capable of lighting up the entire building. A sky lounge and restaurant will round out the 360-degree observation deck planned at 1,476 feet up, and the tower is expected to be a major draw for tourists. The reveal comes before the World Expo 2020 Dubai, as the United Arab Emirates city ramps up its architecture bona fides, an effort that created the world’s largest picture frame. Work on the Burj Jumeira began on January 31, the same day it was announced, and Dubai Holding expects the first phase of the project to be complete in 2023. No cost projection has been released yet, but the New York office of SOM will handle the tower's design and engineering, as well as the development of the Downtown Jumeira master plan.
Colorado's Fentress Architects has released a first look at the U.S.’s pavilion for the upcoming Expo 2020 Dubai, revealing renderings of its mobility-themed, coliseum-like installation. Under a theme of “What Moves You? The Spirit of Mobility,” Fentress and partners from the U.S. State Department, George P. Johnson Experiential Marketing (which is designing the pavilion’s “experiences”), and various public and private partners from the United Arab Emirates revealed the pavilion’s final design on November 28, 2018. The cylindrical National Pavilion will be set askew with structural slants to convey a sense of movement and wrapped in a dynamic facade that can double as a screen for American-themed background imagery. According to Curtis Fentress, a founding partner at Fentress Architects:
We’re looking at an Expo that is related to mobility, movement, travel, sustainability—things that are very important to the world today. We have designed this building to be circular in form with slants fashioned to project a sensation of movement, making the viewer feel like the building itself is in motion. And then, once you enter the building, it opens up to what the United States stands for: We are an open, accessible country where you can live to create ideas. It showcases all the things we are doing in America: developing technology and concepts that are going to move us forward in the future. Designing this pavilion is a tremendous responsibility—one we take very seriously—as we will be showcasing America and American ideas to over 25 million people expected to visit the Expo.Pavilion USA 2020, the collective entity responsible for the installation, also announced a partnership with the California-based Virgin Hyperloop One. Come 2020, the pavilion will host mock-ups of Virgin’s hyperloop pods and offer simulated rides ahead of a projected 2021 rollout in as-of-yet unfinalized locations. The three-story pavilion will feature an internal walkway wound around a central internal void and multi-media column that will double as a triple-height public plaza. The programming will explore a range of what “movement” can mean, from space travel, to shipping cargo, to tracking the flow of blood throughout a body. The Dubai 2020 Expo will open to the public on October 20, 2020, and run through April 10, 2021.
British studio Foster + Partners has released a proposal for a futuristic hyperloop freight system that could one day ship cargo from Dubai to Asia and Europe. The renderings and accompanying video were produced in collaboration with Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One, and the resultant system has been christened DP World Cargospeed. Cargo would be autonomously loaded into autonomously driven pods that appear to closely resemble the passenger pods Virgin revealed in February, and accelerated up to 700 miles per hour using hyperloop technology. The electrically-powered pods are moved through tunnels that have had the air pumped out, removing any wind resistance. From the video, it seems that Foster + Partners is aiming for an integrated, multi-modal shipping solution. Cargo is unloaded portside and brought into the nearby hyperloop loading area, while trucks, autonomous shuttles, and drones are could be potentially used to handle last-mile delivery. Everything feeds into an electric ecosystem, with solar panels on the hyperloop’s tunnels (and station) feeding the movement below. The shipping program would be an outgrowth of Virgin’s partnership with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, and the 75-mile-long Dubai-Abu Dhabi hyperloop stretch could be online as soon as 2020. BIG’s concentric transport hubs, one in each city, will eventually anchor the route and house autonomous Virgin shuttles. While DP World Cargospeed is currently nothing more than a few polished images, with Virgin preparing to lay hyperloop tubes in India, a cross-continental shipping network that latches on to the commuter system could eventually be in the cards. As the video’s narrator describes it, DP World Cargospeed would start off as a system for high-priority goods ordered on-demand, with the higher cost of shipping offsetting the higher infrastructure costs. Still, Virgin hopes that it can get the cost “as low as trucking, with the speed of air delivery”.
What if you could cut the travel time between two cities from a an hour's drive to less than 15 minutes? That's Virgin Hyperloop One's plan for a high-tech, high-speed autonomous transportation system that could one day link Abu Dhabi and Dubai. And now, with the unveiling of a prototype design for the pods that will carry commuters at nearly the speed of sound through low-pressure tubes using magnetic levitation, the plan is inching closer to reality. The first hyperloop pod prototype, created by Virgin Hyperloop One in conjunction with Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), debuted last week as part of UAE Innovation Month, and it gives travelers the first sense of what a trip on the future 'loop might really look like. And, no surprise given that Richard Branson is a major investor, the vibe is very Virgin: sleek, modern, and bathed in moody colored light. The dream of hyperloop transportation has been one of tech's most hyped ideas since Tesla entrepreneur Elon Musk proposed the idea with a white paper back in 2013. While the billionaire entrepreneur is not involved with this particular project, Virgin Hyperloop One has big plans of its own for the developing technology, including other on-demand travel networks linking Los Angeles to Las Vegas and Mumbai to Pune. Along with its high speed, the hyperloop is contained underground and completely autonomous, which may be a major factor in reaching the RTA's goal of making as many as 25 percent of travel in Dubai driverless by 2030. The Dubai-Abu Dhabi hyperloop is expected to one day transport up to 10,000 people per hour between the two Emirati hubs, which are located about 75 miles apart, when it opens to the public, which could be as early as 2020. The Emirati hyperloop will be anchored by a B.I.G.–designed transport hub, making it clear that even when you take time out of the travel equation, things can still still look mighty futuristic.
Video posted to Instagram by observers in Dubai shows a powerful fire tearing through the city’s Marina Torch Tower, a 1,105-foot-tall tower overlooking the city’s marina. The 676-unit tower burned for roughly two hours early Friday morning local time before firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze. Video of the blaze showed one exposure of the tower almost entirely engulfed in flames with flaming debris falling from the tower. The Dubai Media Office relayed a message at 4 a.m. local time from the Dubai Civil Defense announcing that the blaze had been extinguished, adding and that “no casualties have been reported so far.” The fire represents the second such blaze at the tower, which previously caught fire in 2015. That fire was reportedly started by a barbecue grill being used on one of the building’s balconies. That fire led to extensive exterior renovations designed to replace damaged exterior cladding on the structure resulting from the fire. The current fire is under investigation.
After teasing audiences with a 170-second-long video last month, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has unveiled further information on its collaboration with Elon Musk's Hyperloop One, a super high-speed transit network in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). With expected travel times of just 12 minutes between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the route would slash current car journey times of two hours between the cities. It's a tantalizing prospect and BIG has been working on the project since May of this year. The firm has developed concepts for autonomous point-to-point travel including Hyperloop One's transport portals and pods while also working on a feasibility study financed by the Transport Authority of Dubai (RTA). The plan so far involves a pods—capable of carrying humans and freight—traveling in excess of 680 miles per hour through pressurized tubes that would stretch between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. These pods will carry six people and would be part of a zero-emission electric propulsion system. Speed is also a concern relative to passenger circulation outside the pods. "All elements of the travel experience are designed to increase convenience and reduce interruptions," BIG said in a statement. "The main objective of the design is to eliminate waiting from the passenger experience." BIG's designs for the portals build on a study that looked at inter-city transport network integration with existing infrastructure and population density in the two cities. As a result, the firm's proposal involves easily identifiable departure gates that passengers can swiftly access. While pods may be small in size, BIG explained that their frequency rate of arrival and departure would cater to high demand. Pods would also be able to operate autonomously away from the pressurized tubes, meaning they could travel on regular roads. "Together with BIG, we have worked on a seamless experience that starts the moment you think about being somewhere—not going somewhere,” said Josh Giegel, president of engineering of Hyperloop One, in a press release. “We don’t sell cars, boats, trains, or planes. We sell time.” Bjarke Ingels, founding partner of BIG, added: “With Hyperloop One we have given form to a mobility ecosystem of pods and portals, where the waiting hall has vanished along with waiting itself. Hyperloop One combines collective commuting with individual freedom at near supersonic speed," he said. "We are heading for a future where our mental map of the city is completely reconfigured, as our habitual understanding of distance and proximity—time and space—is warped by this virgin form of travel.”
This week in Dubai, UAE officials and architects from Santiago Calatrava's firm broke ground on what will be the world's tallest skyscraper. The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour will rise 3,045 feet skyward when it is completed in 2020, at a cost of around $1 billion. “The design and architectural features of The Tower demand unique engineering approaches that are currently being implemented on site," said Santiago Calatrava, in a statement. "Extensive studies were undertaken in preparation for the groundbreaking, and the learning that we have gained from the experience will add to the knowledge base of mankind.” Departing zero percent from the bells-and-whistles approach so common to UAE mega-projects, the tower combines traditional Islamic architecture motifs with Calatrava's signature white fish bones. Although renderings can deceive, the tower looks like Erte's Venere In Pelliccia traded her dress for one from David's Bridal, taffeta train and all. The fly-over animation below takes viewers up, through, and around the tower: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AC02sSzCAI4 Flashy amenities are key to this tower's appeal: Its pointy tip is devoted to something called the Pinnacle Room, a panorama viewing area that features VIP "garden decks," or observation platforms. These and other decks rotate outward, providing additional viewing points. In some ways, Calatrava's design recognizes the challenges of building densely in the desert: Water collected from the cloudbuster's cooling system will be recycled to clean the facade, while strategically placed flora will shield the building from the harsh rays of the sun. As a downtown anchor, the tower's main plaza will offer high-end retail (is there even another kind of retail in a project this size?), education facilities, a museum, and an auditorium.
Dubai doesn't do half measures. The city's latest endeavor, a Calatrava-designed super-tower, continues that trend. Emaar Properties would usually be outraged that their Burj Khalifa, the tallest building on the planet, was to be cast in shadow by a new building. However, they're also backing Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava's new tower along the city’s creek. Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Dubai-based Emaar Properties, has estimated costs at around $1 billion, $500 million cheaper than the Burj Khalifa when it opened in 2010. However, the final height of the building is yet to be confirmed—all we now know is that Calatrava's tower will rise above 2,700 feet, the height of the Burj Khalifa. https://youtu.be/tb8eOV0s5bA The tower itself will feature fully-glazed rotating balconies and observation decks (of course) as well as interior landscaping that takes influence from the hanging gardens of Babylon (now at dizzying heights). The showpiece observation area will be called "The Pinnacle Room" and will offer views over Dubai. Alongside this, up to 20 stories will house mixed-use facilities such as restaurants and a boutique hotel. Calatrava's design is said to be inspired by the profile of a lily flower while also mimicking a minaret (Arabic for lighthouse/beacon), a distinctive building commonly found in Islamic architecture and symbolism. The contours of his design will be formed using a cable system that will also anchor the tower to the ground. The core of the building, as depicted, will rise up supported by the cable structure, housing all the building facilities and services. At the top, where the diameter is widest, will be the Pinnacle Room that will house an array of greenery. "The slender stem serves as the spine of the structure and the cables linking the building to the ground are reminiscent of the delicate ribbing of the lily’s leaves," said Calatrava's firm. "The structure also provides a beacon of light at night, with lighting that will emphasize the flower-bud design of the building." Speaking of the project, Calatrava said: “From the beginning, my team and I have tried to put the best of ourselves into this project, since it is very special and [it's] a great honour to participate." "The design has clear reference to the classic art from the past and the culture of the place while serving as a great technological achievement. In my whole career, I have perceived technology as a vehicle to beauty and to art. This project envisages an artistic achievement in itself, inspired by the idea of welcoming people, not only from Dubai and the UAE, but from the entire world. It is a symbol of an abiding belief in progress."
Alabbar added that he intends to present the tower as a "gift to the city" before Dubai's 2020 World Expo, with which Norman Foster, Bjarke Ingels and Nick Grimshaw are all involved.
Dubai, seemingly the architectural playground of choice in recent times, was selected to host the 2020 World Expo three years ago. The event, which will last six months, will have the theme of "Connecting Minds, Creating Future." Not wanting to miss an opportunity to flaunt extravagant designs, Danish architect Bjarke Ingles and Brits Norman Foster and Nick Grimshaw have wasted no time jumping on the Dubai bandwagon. Their three firms, BIG, Foster + Partners and Grimshaw Architects have all received the green light to contribute pavilions touching on themes like mobility, sustainability, and opportunity. His Highness, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Expo Higher Committee in partnership with Emaar Properties, unveiled the winners of the competition this month. BIG will design the "Opportunity Pavilion" which showcases an extravagant undulating facade curved in three dimensions. The structure invites audiences in by revealing the central lobby and core of the pavilion which also houses an array of trees and plant life. Foster + Partners put forward their "Mobility Pavilion," which is equally outlandish and curvaceous. Foster reportedly drew on his experiences when master-planning Masdar City—a city in Abu Dhabi that will rely solely on renewable energy. Finally Grimshaw Architects' "Sustainability Pavilion" maintains the trend toward elliptical design, with a replica of a large solar collector. Usually seen in the desert, similar designs require a tower to focus the light onto the collector (and others in the vicinity). Here, the large disc, which is acutely curved to form a bowl, is surrounded by many smaller versions that stand freely around it. The three pavilions make up only a fraction of the 200 hectare site of the Expo, expected to open in four years.
Dystopia or dream? Dubai wants to build a domed "mall of the world" as Earth's first climate-controlled city
Dubai's insatiable thirst for world firsts and records appears unquenched, as the city sets its eyes on yet another landmark title. Already home to the world's tallest building and with plans in the pipeline for the first fully rotational skyscraper, developer Dubai Holdings has unveiled plans for what would be the world's first climate-controlled city, something they call "The Mall of the World." https://youtu.be/p-lUp9sUFZw Although it may not be quite on the scale of Buckminster Fuller's plan to encapsulate Manhattan, Dubai is giving the late American architect a run for his money. The Mall of the World, if built, will be a staggering nine times larger than The Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. The 4.3-mile-long shopping mall would be encapsulated by a retractable dome that would be capable of offering an air-conditioned environment to the inhabitant shoppers who want to escape the city's searing desert heat. According to the developer, the space will be have almost 300 buildings with an annual capacity of up to 180 million visitors. By comparison, The Mall of America, built in 1992, offers a 5.4 million square feet of floor space (plus an additional 2.5 million in a separate plaza). Due to be complete by 2020, Dubai Holding COO Morgan Parker has said that the dome "will be critical to the Emirate's economic growth." Already more than 100 engineers and architects are working on plans that will see the area occupy around 48 million square feet of space when complete. Also included in the scheme will be a vast network of 33 roads as well as walkways, cycle paths, bus routes, and Venetian-style waterways. Aside from copious amounts of shops and restaurants, the dome will also offer:
- The largest indoor family theme park in the world
- Wellness district catering to medical tourists in a 3-million-square-foot area
- Cultural district comprising theatres built around New York’s Broadway, The Celebration Walk, similar to the Ramblas Street in Barcelona and shopping streets based on London’s Oxford Street
- Dubai’s largest celebration centre accommodating 15,000 revellers