A raging fire that consumed a luxury skyscraper in the United Arab Emirates on New Year’s Eve is raising concerns about the safety of a number of ultra-high towers that have come to define contemporary Dubai. Just a few hours before midnight last Thursday, fire erupted at the Address Downtown Hotel, a 63-story building near the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. The flames spread to cover approximately 40 floors in just minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPCL3sNVBcM The New Year’s Eve fire is not the first to break out at one of the city’s super-tall towers. In February of 2015, a fire erupted at an 86-story structure, regrettably named the Torch, which was the tallest residential building in the world when it opened in 2011. In 2012, a large fire gutted the Tarmweel Tower, a 35-story residential building, rendering it uninhabitable. https://twitter.com/AtiehS/status/682617847139418112 In all three instances, the buildings’ cladding panels, which, according to the website Gulf Business, can contain a dangerous mix of aluminum and polyurethane, are likely the cause of the rapid rates at which the fires spread. The chemical combination is also highly combustible in dry, desert air. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EXGvUCIdUc While such cladding is not necessarily hazardous, it can become extremely flammable under specific conditions, and depending on the building’s design. In an interview with The National, Samer Barakat, the chief executive of Alumco, which supplied the panels of the Address building, stated that two-thirds of the buildings in Dubai are covered with non-fire rated aluminum composite panels (ACP). “From our side we complied. We gave all our submissions, there was approval on every submission according to specification,” he told the UAE newspaper. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=7&v=mXNMaCBw-Lk By the time the United Arab Emirates changed its Fire and Life Safety Code to mandate fire-retardant cladding for all buildings taller than 50 feet in 2013, numerous tall buildings erected during Dubai’s construction boom had already used non-fire rated exterior cladding. The Address Hotel was completed in 2008. The recently enacted regulations do not apply to existing buildings, however. And while the cost of replacing cladding on skyscrapers built before 2013 with safer materials would be an extremely costly undertaking, the cost of not doing anything—which could include possible demolition and replacement due to severe damages—could be far worse.
Posts tagged with "Dubai":
LuLu Group International has commissioned Design International and Eng. Adnan Saffarini to design its new flagship shopping center: Avenues Mall, Silicon Oasis in Dubai. And while it might not boast the heights we're used to seeing in the towering city, it is certainly sprawling at 1,779 acres. Avenues Mall, Silicon Oasis is the front door of the so-called Dubai Silicon Oasis development covering some 1,779 acres. To wrap your head around that number, that's 2.7 square miles or 1,306 football fields. The vicinity will be home to over 700 high tech companies, hotels, business parks, and large residential communities, located right off Emirates Road and Al Ain Road in a rapidly developing area on Dubai's periphery. Architect for Design International, Davide Padoa, said in a press release, "All of the parties involved in this project share the same values: the development of the community, as well as the desire to be at the forefront of style, technology and sustainable innovation, which is what Dubai Silicon Oasis stands out for." The mall uses pebble-like forms that, when viewed from a distance, appear to be wrapped in white wrapping paper. Of course, this is only an illusion—white tiles comprise the facade system that's supposedly inspired by "ancient Arabian movements across the desert." Design Internationals said it aimed to create "an oasis of calm and tranquility in the otherwise hectic pace of modern suburban Dubai." As for the interior, five plazas will reflect the five elements of an oasis: The Cave, The Canyon, The Forest, The Lagoon, and The Mirage. Also inside will be entertainment, urban fashion, luxury, kids, sports and leisure zones along with a cinema, 45 restaurants, and a flagship LuLu Hypermarket and LuLu Department Store. To accomodate the arrival of the expected number of visitors by car, there will also be a two level 3,600 capacity car park.
Report finds the Middle East could soon be too hot for human inhabitation as Dubai moves forward with its own indoor rainforest in a skyscraper
In an ironic twist, the global fuel powerhouse that is the Middle East is at risk of becoming too hot for human life due to the emissions produced as a result of creating that fuel. Such news evidently means little to the city of Dubai which is currently in line for two new luxurious skyscrapers, one of which will feature its very own rainforest. Jeremy Pal and Elfatih A. B. Eltahir recently published "Nature: Climate Change" which outlines how rising temperatures in the Persian Gulf will render the area inhospitable. The study compares a standard model of CO2 emissions over the course of 80 years to the temperatures deemed viable for human life. The more shocking news is that the research factors in mankind's predicted future efforts to curb emissions. The climate variables that were used to determine that human life was unsupportable were complex, though Pal and Eltahir simplified it, using a measurement called "wet bulb" heat. This was described as “a combined measure of temperature and humidity, or ‘mugginess'” by which a maximum exposure time of six hours to the conditions (of 95 Fahrenheit) was stated. Anything more “would probably be intolerable even for the fittest of humans,” they noted, adding that "even the most basic outdoor activities are likely to be severely impacted.” Toronto-based architect firm ZASA, however, has different ideas. Situated off Sheikh Zayed Road (SZR) in Al Thanyah First, two luxury towers in exuberant Dubai style will offer nothing other than the flamboyant panache that made the city famous: the complex boasts its own rainforest and an artificial beach. The 3.2 acre site will encompass the two, 47-story-high towers, a five storey podium, and two basement levels. Both towers will include a "sky lobby" and "sky pool." Meanwhile, the 450-room Key Hotel will offer fine dining restaurants, spa, a health club, and meeting rooms. The other tower is being called a "Serviced Apartment Tower." ZASA says that the architecture is meant to represent contemporary life in Dubai, while the "modernist" structures utilize "active frontage" via the implementation of podiums that proportion the towers. (h/t The New York Times for Nature: Climate Change)
The top-of-the-line new residences by New York-based firm SOMA boast the tagline: “crafted for the most privileged of the privileged few”—and it’s easy to see why. Rising at the entrance to the Palm Jumeirah, one of Dubai’s artificial islands, the One at Palm consists of 90 exclusive residences, the units arranged in alternately pulled-in and pulled-out configurations across each level so that each apartment is guaranteed 360-degree views. The north side overlooks the Palm, while south-facing views sweep over the Dubai Marina. SOMA calculated these intricate configurations through an extensive process of adjacency and view studies to achieve unobstructed panoramas, uncompromised privacy, and to guarantee each unit its own private outdoor space proportional to the size of the apartment. For the most part, units are outfitted with balconies, but the design allows for the creation of several true open terraces. At 25 stories up, it is the highest residential development on the island, and will be completed in 2017 on undeveloped land on the left side of the trunk of the Palm. SOMA designed the One to be built on three separate cores that provide private access to individual units. Each core leads to no more than two apartments, while elevators to the higher floors service units individually. The penthouse goes for $54 million. “Our design for One at Palm shatters the predictable condo tower mold of curtain-walled containers by creating private villas in the sky, offering seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor space, and capturing the most remarkable views in a way that allows each residence to seemingly float above the sea,” Michel Abboud, founder of SOMA, said at the Cityscape Global Conference at the Dubai World Trade Center, where designs for One at Palm were first unveiled. Each unit features multiple entrances, wall-to-wall glass ceilings that flaunt the seafront views, and a double-height ceiling in every living room. Units at certain stories open up to a glass-enclosed infinity pool, tanning bed, and outdoor lounge area. The interiors by Japanese firm Super Potato juxtapose nature and steel, while the landscape architecture will be the handiwork of Vladimir Djurovic. Facilities include an indoor and outdoor pool, a cinema, cigar lounge, super luxury spa managed by ESPA, and a yacht club. Finally, residents can customize their unit with the best Poltrona Frau has to offer after a private consultation session with an interior designer. The $680 million project is a 50-50 joint venture between Omniyat group and Drake & Scull International.
London skyline as battleground: Designers render 3D-printed chess pieces in the shape of iconic architecture
City skylines can seem at times like battlegrounds, with architects vying for superlatives of tallest, grandest, and bizarrest. Skyline Chess, founded by London-based designers Chris Prosser and Ian Flood, reimagines chess pieces as miniature models of the city’s landmark buildings. The ubiquitous terraced house, oft seen in indistinguishable cookie-cutter rows, is recast as the humble pawn, while the iconic Big Ben plays the rook, the London Eye Ferris wheel stands in for the Knight, and the Bishop is supplanted with The Gherkin. Meanwhile, Renzo Piano’s 87-story Shard in Southwark, London, presides as Queen, while the reigning honor of King-dom is bestowed upon the 4.5 inch-tall Canary Wharf, one of the UK’s two main financial centers. “In developing the idea we thought long and hard about suitable alternatives for the chessmen, both in terms of their architecture and symbolic value as well as their value on the chessboard,” the designers wrote on their website. “We believe that as individual objects they are beautiful and when arranged across the board represent something unique.” Lovers of architecture, Prosser and Flood developed their idea over a series of chess matches, modeled the pieces in 3D, and then 3D-printed them in injection-molded acrylic. Each piece is double-weighted and has a felt base. In 2013, the designers launched a campaign on popular crowdfunding site Kickstarter, but won just over $14,000 in pledges of the approximately $39,000 requested to fund their startup. While crowdfunding fell through, seeing as the site operates on an all-or-nothing funding model, Prosser and Flood secured investment elsewhere. In addition to trotting out its first architecture-influenced edition, Skyline Chess creates bespoke chess sets for lovers of the strategic board game, and has its eye on developing sets based on the architectural icons of Rome, New York, Dubai, and Shanghai.
The two innovators behind the Jetman Dubai jetpack athlete team recently released a video of them streaking in synchronized flight over the Dubai skyline and surrounding desert—and it brings a completely new perspective to the architecture of the city. Yves Rossy, a professional pilot from Switzerland, and Vince Reffet, a professional skydiver, have spent years perfecting the contraptions for propelled human flight. Although incapable of independent take-off, their delta-winged, turbine-powered jetpack can gain altitude when dropped from an aircraft and sustain flight for 6–13 minutes at speeds of 112–186 mph. In the promotional video for Skydive Dubai, the duo are shown careening close to the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, shooting over the Persian Gulf coast, and freewheeling over the desert. “I felt I was flying. It is just an insane feeling,” one of the jetmen said in the video. “The moment when the action is coming there is big concentration. It’s a mixture of fear and adrenaline that we transform into good energy, into power.” The flight was shot from a chase plane and two GoPro cameras attached to the jetmen, according to The Verge. Rossy, infatuated with the world of free fall and an innovator in the world of propelled human flight, has tinkered for ten years with a jetpack that would allow for prolonged flight and better control of trajectory. With each new iteration, Rossy shrank the wings to make them more aerodynamic for faster flight, building on his first flightsuit that enabled him to stay airborne for just 10 minutes. Rossy is currently developing a new flightsuit featuring bigger and lighter wings with a slower approach speed for independent takeoff and landing, so that the flyer’s own legs can be used as landing gear. In 2013, Rossy cruised in the air alongside a B17 bomber jet at Oshkosh’s AirVenture airshow in Wisconsin. Rossy has also annexed the skies above the Swiss Alps, the English channel, and the Grand Canyon. [h/t Bored Panda]
This mall looks like it should be built in Dubai, but it’s actually planned in Miami as the nation’s largest
The slew of stories on the death of the American shopping mall has not deterred one real estate company from submitting plans to build the largest shopping and entertainment center in the country. The Miami Herald reported that the ambitious plan comes from the Triple 5 Group, a company that knows a thing or two about big malls—it owns and runs the Mall of America in Minnesota. Apparently not satisfied with letting that mall remain the nation's largest, the developer has unveiled designs for something even larger in Miami-Dade County. If you ignore the mall's very 1950s, Americana-sounding name, "American Dream Miami," it looks like something you might find in Dubai or a Chinese city, but, no, the 200-acre complex is planned for the good ol' U.S. of A. So, what does the American Dream include? Well, restaurants and shops, and hotels and condominiums, and mini golf, and a theme park, and a skating rink, and a Legoland, a Ferris wheel, and indoor gardens, and—get ready for these two—a sea-lion show and a "submarine lake." Oh, and in a very Dubai-move, it also has a 12-story indoor ski slope. Sorry, one more thing—there is also some sort of telescope situation poking out of what appears to be the "ski dome." For the American Dream to become a reality, the developer first needs a change in zoning to move things along. From there, things get a little tricky. Triple 5 could acquire most of its required land from a private company, but 80 acres of the site is owned by the state. And, as the Herald pointed out, the Miami-Dade school system has a lease on a big chunk of that acreage. Apparently, Triple 5 would give the school system $7 million to waive its lease and another $11 million to the state for the rest of the land. Triple 5 could also be asked to fund mass transit improvements in the area. The plan will reportedly be considered by county commissioners and the school board later this month.
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the nonprofit arbiter on tall building design, has named its 2014 picks for best tall buildings. Among the winners are a twisting tower in Dubai, Portland's greenest retrofit, and a veritable jungle of a high-rise. The four regional winners are: The Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, Portland, USA (Americas); One Central Park, Sydney, Australia (Asia & Australia); De Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands (Europe); and Cayan Tower, Dubai, UAE (Middle East & Africa). Portland’s Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building is not a new building. Designed by SOM in 1974, the office tower used a pre-cast concrete façade that had begun to fail by the turn of the 21st century. Bainbridge Island, Washington-based Cutler Anderson Architects and local firm SERA modernized the 18-story, 512,474 square-foot structure that is now targeting LEED Platinum. One Central Park in Sydney uses hydroponics and heliostats to cultivate gardens and green walls throughout the tower, cooling the building and creating the world's tallest vertical garden. OMA’s De Rotterdam is the largest building in the Netherlands, and its form playfully morphs the glassy midcentury office high-rise in a way that’s part homage and part experimental deconstruction. In the Middle East, Dubai’s twisting Cayan Tower (formerly The Infinity Tower) is a 75-story luxury apartment building that turns 90 degrees over its 997-foot ascent. Remarked the CTBUH panel: “happening upon its dancing form in the skyline is like encountering a hula-hooper on a train full of gray flannel suits.” CTBUH will pick an overall “Best Tall Building Worldwide” winner at their 13th Annual Awards on November 6, at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Their panel of judges includes Jeanne Gang, OMA’s David Gianotten, Laing O’Rourke’s David Scott, and Sir Terry Farrell, among others. OMA’s CCTV Tower in Beijing won last year’s competition. Most of the 88 contest entries were from Asia, CTBUH said, continuing that continent’s dominance of global supertall building construction. CTBUH's international conference will take place in Shanghai in September. You can find more about the 2014 CTBUH awards, including a full list of finalists, at their website.
Architect Gordon Gill has one simple rule for facade design: seek performance first, and beauty will follow. Gill, who will give the opening keynote address at next month’s facades+PERFORMANCE conference in New York, is a founding partner at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, a firm known for pushing the boundaries of what architecture is and does. Gill and his team start by “establishing a language of architecture that’s based in the performance of a building,” he said. “We’re trying to understand the role of the building in the environment it’s being built in, then shape the building in order to benefit it the best way. Once we take that approach, the facades play a pretty rich role in either absorbing or reflecting the environment.” Gill titled his keynote talk “Skin Deep” as a tongue-in-cheek reference to what facade design ought not to be. “A lot of times facades are treated that way, as just a wrapper to make the building look good, when in fact we find their roles to be much deeper,” said Gill. “The role of the facade is really an amazing opportunity to change perceptions of space, to change thermal compositions of space, to change experiences of space on either side of that fence.” Gill has plenty of experience designing high-performance facades for challenging climates, from the heat of Dubai to the cold of Kazakhstan, where, he said, the air was so frigid and dry that he saw ice on the floor of the car that picked him up from the airport. “It’s amazing the environments that we have decided to occupy, and in doing so then we turn to these envelopes to protect us, everything from our coat to our building,” he observed. Gill embraces technology as a means to the end of high performance. “I’m a big fan of trying to get the most out of everything, and the technology plays a pretty big role in that for me,” he said. “When you’re dealing with a whole host of factors, including massive wind loads, movements of buildings, safety and protection in something that’s one kilometer tall, you’ve stretched the boundaries of conventionalism, you’ve gone beyond the normal expectations of materials. So now it becomes this combination of things you have to do to solve the problems.” Balancing performance and sensitivity in a facade, said Gill, is “like conflict resolution at the threshold of the built environment”—and technology can be an important mediator. “I would just put out a little call to arms for everyone who’s out there in this business, because we do have a responsibility to improve the environments that we design and work in,” concluded Gill. “I think beauty [has] a pivotal role and [is] a quality we all want to pursue, however, it shouldn’t be at the cost of intelligence, performance, and all the other things that make our environments valuable to us. I look forward to seeing more of that in the architecture that’s being produced—from us, too.”
In 2007, Zaha Hadid received commission from Omniyat Properties to design the 312-feet-tall Opus Office Building in Dubai. Now, she has been given opportunity to continue this structure’s development beyond solely its architectural exterior. Spain-based Meliá Hotels International announced Hadid as designer for their second hotel in the United Arab Emirates (their first is in Bar Dubai). The internationally renowned architect will be given full creative design of the interior and exterior of the ME by Meliá Dubai Hotel, to be located in her Opus Building. Set to open in 2016, the project will be Hadid’s first hotel designed in entirety. The Opus Building is a unique mixed-use complex. Two edifices make up the plan yet are conceived as a single cube, interconnected with a hollow free-form shape in the middle. During the daytime, a reflective facade creates the illusion of solidity. It is only at night that light from the interior causes the space to appear to outside viewers. Hadid will design the interior of the ME by Meliá Dubai hotel as she completes its rendered exterior. The hotel will occupy 250,000 square feet within the Opus Building, consisting of 100 rooms, restaurants, and top food and beverage brands. The highest floors are planned as exclusive, privately owned apartments and penthouses that will also receive the service of hotel staff. Meliá Hotels International assures that the ME by Meliá Dubai “will stand out as one of the most striking landmarks on the Dubai skyline.” When completed, it will be set in stark competition to other dynamic Dubai structures, like SOM’s Mashreq Bank Tower, in the increasingly luxurious development of the city’s Burj Khalifa district. Renderings Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) announced last week it would design a new headquarters for Dubai-based Mashreq Bank. The 32-story tower is “a quiet sculptural form within Dubai’s skyline,” SOM Design Director Ross Wimer said in a statement. Its L-shaped floor plate is cantilevered around an empty volume between the building’s eight-story podium and its top levels. The building’s massing shields that courtyard from solar gain, while opening up views to Sheikh Zayed Road and the Burj Khalifa to the east. Executive offices occupy the top two floors, where the square floorplate resumes, with Mashreq’s Board Room suspended from an interior opening at the middle.
Scrap your afternoon plans and take an amazing aerial tour of Dubai, instead. Photographer Gerald Donovan has created an interactive panorama of the city as seen from the top of the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa for the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award. The view was taken from the top of the tower, some 2,722 feet above the street, reached by climbing nearly 660 feet through the Burj Khalifa's enormous spire. Users can pan around and zoom in to observe the surrounding cityscape with amazing detail. To achieve the stunning effect, Donovan stitched 70 photographs together, each a whopping 80 megapixels, to create a single 2.5 gigapixel panorama. [Via The Telegraph.]