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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Proposed Dubai

Proposed Dubai
The Oval Tower, Another Landmark For Dubai
Posted Jun 1st 2007

The Oval Tower is the latest piece of architectural whimsy to come out of Dubai.
As you might guess, it is shaped like an oval. The tower in the Business Bay area
will be home to 19 floors of office space and a leisure deck with a gymnasium with
a sauna, shower and lockers. The building as two distinct parts, the tower and
the podium. The podium of the tower will hold a dining area with a panoramic lift
and staircase. There will be parking in both the podium and the basement
for 651 cars.
Floating Tower Planned For Dubai

The past month has seen once again the extravagance of Dubai architecture
hit the headlines. First we had the tower that spins and just recently we had
the Death Star inspired building.

Now Dubai has gone further and decided to have a building that seems to
float above the ground. A little more digging and i find its from the makers
of the iPad Tower, Omniyat Properties, who have a range of eye catching
developments and have now added the Opus to their stunning portfolio!

The Opus will cost a staggering $266.7 million and Omniyat said the
Opus would appear to hover above the ground. Furthermore,
The 22-storey development will consist of three separate towers
designed to appear as a single cube-shaped structure.
The structure will also feature an asymmetrical hole through
its centre, dubbed “the void”, which will be clad in reflective curved glass.

Rem Koolhaas's Dubai Deathstar
by Lloyd Alter, Toronto on 05.21.07
Design & Architecture

We show a lot of proposals for buildings in Dubai, often draped in photovoltaics and
covered in propellers, or twisting and turning, it is a Disneyland of architecture.
Sometimes we think they are going a bit overboard, as they evolve from Disney
to Lucas with buildings like OMA's Ras al Khaimah Convention and Exhibition Centre.
We have used Picasso's bon mot, updated by Le Corbusier before: "Good architects
borrow but great architects steal" but never was the homage so obvious.
Architectspeak below the fold.

So far the 21st century – in a desperate effort to differentiate one building from
the next – has been characterized by a manic production of extravagant shapes.
Paradoxically, the result is a surprisingly monotonous urban substance,
where any attempt at ‘difference’ is instantly neutralized in a sea of meaningless
architectural gestures.

RAK is confronted with an important choice: Does it join so many others in
this mad, futile race or does it become the first to offer a new credibility?

This project represents a final attempt at distinction through architecture:
not through the creation of the next bizarre image, but through a return to
pure form. ::OMA via my favourite source for wild and crazy architecture.

Note: Gravestmor suggests that it is not modelled on the deathstar,
but on a Panasonic radio from 1972, five years before the first
Star Wars movie, calling it "the little Japanese radio that could."

Hydropolis Underwater Hotel

The £300 million Hydropolis Underwater Hotel opens this month
Naveen | Dec 12 2007

The news in the air is that the world’s first luxury underwater hotel,
the Hydropolis Undersea Resort, is all set to open its doors in Dubai
this December. The £300 million, 220-suite hotel is a one of its kind
resort, which will encompass a whopping 1.1-million-square-foot of
area offering shopping mall, ballroom, island villas, restaurant,
high-tech cinema and surprisingly, a missile-defense system for
your security 60-feet underwater. Located 20m beneath the surface
of the Arabian Gulf near the scenic Jumeirah Beach coastline,
the underwater hotel offers 220 theme suites to the tourists within
the submarine leisure complex. The resort is designed with a petal-like
retracting roof to organize open-sky events.

The land on which Hydropolis is being built belongs to His Highness
General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.
The original idea for Hydropolis popped out of its designer Joachim
Hauser’s passion for water and the sea. Interestingly, guests won’t need
to dive in order to reach the luxurious resort. Instead, they will be
transported by trains via connecting tunnels to the Land Station.
The undersea resort also has a children’s seaworld. A ballroom
links every storey of the hotel and has been fixed with a petal-like
retracting roof for staging of open-air events. Let’s see if the news is
true this time as we have already heard of it to be opening-up in
December 2006 and the news turned out to be fake.

Crescent Hydropolis Resorts PLC has plans of lining up a chain of
similar-concept underwater hotels that have already attracted
interest from several countries. Check out our list of top
0 futuristic luxury hotels.

Special thanks to http://www.eikongraphia.com/

iPod, by Cybertecture

The human mind has it tricks. When you first read ‘a building that looks
like a giant iPod’, and after that you look at the image, you project what
you’ve just learned on the thing you look at. If you read in a museum
it’s a Rembrandt, who’s to question that?

If the rumor hits the newsstands before the images do, such as with
this project that has been unveiled for Dubai, all blogs and magazine
repeat after each other ‘It’s an iPod’, while it looks more like the
Fashion Line of Nokia, a reference we’ve seen before on Eikongraphia
with the BBC Music Center of Foreign Office Architects.
The building even reads in the top ‘iPad’, in case you
would overlook the iconography.

Agreed, the overall form, the rounded edges, the tilted form (6 degrees)
, look somewhat like an iPod in a dock, but what if you hadn’t read
the headline of this post?

The project is being designed by Hong Kong architect James Law,
who thinks himself as doing ‘cybertecture’, which means – according
to the interiors he decorated until this project – installing a lot
of colorful lamps, displays, interactivity, etc. The nineties are
coming back, it seems.

The building specifications: 23-story, 200 apartments, completion
in 2009, and located in the Business Bay area around the Burj Dubai,
the 800+ meter high tower designed by SOM.

Before the first pictures of the iPad arrived rumors crossed
the gadget websites, and the visualization firm Archpartners
even made a nice rendering of a possible iPod building. Ironically
it looks better than the proposed building with its abstract square
and round framing in the façade. It made me think of some
projects by Louis Kahn. The balcony with the trees is ridiculous off course.

Will Apple release next year a special ‘iPad’ edition of the iPod?

Rumors have it that a developer in Australia works on a 34-story
apartment building shaped like a mobile phone, “complete with
rooftop antenna and enormous buttons.”

Special thanks to http://www.eikongraphia.com/

Iris Bay

The British architectural firm W.S. Atkins has designed a 170-meter
32-story tower called ‘Iris Bay’ for Dubai. The construction of the building
has started last week. The building is sited in the Central Business District
of Dubai; a zone of towers called Business Bay that folds around the
Burj Dubai, the 808-meter tower designed by SOM.

The iconography of the project is – as the name ‘Iris Bay’ seems to
indicate – the pupil of an eye. The elliptical form refers not to the
round human pupil however but to something different. It could
be the pupil of a cat’s eye. The eye of the Tiger? After the Asian Tiger,
now a Middle-Eastern Panther? If we would stretch it the blue
Dubai-sky could be the blue iris, while the building acts as the pupil.

Another reading might suggest the correspondence to the Eye of
Sauron of Peter Jackson’s movie-trilogy Lord of the Rings. And
more ironically one could suggest Iris Bay looks like the eye of a
crocodile or a snake, whose (imitated) skin is used for the
exclusive purses that the wealthy Dubai buy. The references to
the eye of a panthers, tigers, snakes, and crocodiles gives the
building a positive charge of exclusivity and exoticism that fits Dubai.

Is this reading too far ‘out there’, and am I overlooking a more
obvious reading? Leave a comment if you have an idea! A friend
of me suggests it looks more like a seed or nut (such as an Amandel),
a flower (like an iris) or even a vulva. That would make the
third vagina-building then.

Dubai Renaissance project
There are currently not many buildings being designed that oblige
a critic to refer to Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, simply
because the design has a so obvious relation to that heritage.
The Dubai Renaissance project by OMA/Rem Koolhaas is such a project.

In a sense the design is very contextual as the Gulf States, Dubai
ncluded, have loads of slabs from the sixties and seventies.
This one fits right in, even enhances the existing Modernist architecture.

In scale it is really something else though. With a projected height of
300 meters it is almost as high as the Eiffel Tower. Compared to the
adjacent 700 meters of the Burj Dubai it seems not that huge,
but if you compared it to the original Unité d’Habitation of Le
Corbusier it is six times higher. Six times!

The Dubai Renaissance is also twice the height of Mies van der Rohe’s
Seagram Building. It is a scale that is almost unimaginable, for a slab.
We could say it would be the biggest slab on earth, creating a new
league in addition to the ‘highest building’ and the ‘highest structure’.

Proposing the biggest slab ever is a smart way to beat the competition.
When everybody else makes form, you do abstraction. When
everybody else makes towers, you do a slab. In the words of OMA:

“The ambition of this project is to end the current phase of
architectural idolatry – the age of the icon – where obsession
with individual genius far exceeds commitment to the collective
effort that is needed to construc
t the city…
Instead of an architecture of form and image, we have created a
reintegration of architecture and engineering, where intelligence
is not invested in effect, but in a structural and conceptual logic
that offers a new kind of performance and functionality.
So far, the 21st century trend in city building leads to a mad
and meaningless overdose of themes, extremes, egos and extravagance.
What is needed is a new beginning, a Renaissance… Dubai is confronted
by its most important choice: Does it join so many others in this mad,
futile race or does it become the first 21st century metropolis to offer
a new credibility?
[…] It proposes a single monolithic volume constructed, like an
elevator core, in one continuous operation – 200 meters wide and
300 meters tall [comprising of offices and business forums,
hotel and residential suites, retail, a
rt and urban spaces]. Instead of competing with the
Burj Dubai merely in terms of height, it overshadows it in terms
of presence and substance…”

The presented arguments repeat the old dogmas of Modernism:
- The box is the most functional form for program and construction.
- Architecture can and must build the community.

That latter point, the community, is ‘solved’ with vertical streets.
Pretty much like Le Corbusier did in his first Unité d’Habitation
in Marseille, before he found out that it did not work and left it
out in his later projects. OMA has put three double-story lobbies
on different heights in the building:
1. A Business Forum in the middle of the first half of the slab,
which is programmed with offices.
2. A Wellness Lobby in the middle of the upper half of the slab
that is programmed halfly with a hotel, and halfly with condo’s.
3. A (public?) Panorama Lobby is placed on top of it all.

Ingenious is the plan to enliven these air-‘streets’ by making
three elevator shafts. The middle one stops only at the ’streets’.
From there one walks to one of the other two cores to step in a lift
that will bring you to your office, hotel-room, or house.

Stunning, really. What if Le Corbusier had thought of that?
Then maybe his shopping street in the air had worked.
It would then not be ‘just an elevator stop away’,
but actually something you would pass anyway on
your way to your house.

It will take however some courage from the developer and
future-owner to actually implement such a traffic system.
Because if you work on the second floor, you have to get
first all the way up, then walk back the other elevator shaft,
and then go back again, all the way down. Taking the
emergency stairs would be an alternative, but the
bottom line is that it would transform the whole concept
of moving through a skyscraper. That is playing with psychology.

Though OMA suggests its design is a subversive statement
against the status quo of icon building, the paradox is off
course their design is the most iconic one we have seen in a while.
The main characteristic of the icon is not form, but difference.
Difference by inventions in form, or difference just for the
difference - as here is the case. By being abstract, by
being a slab, and by being the biggest slab, this design
is triple different.

The bigness (in flatness and slenderness) comes with a
big ‘awe’ that makes the project instantly attractive.
A property all icons have. In addition to that, I think
the project has the beauty Modernism was invented
for. In a competition once held in Rotterdam there
was an entry with the rightful title: ‘Silence is Sexy.’

In the case of OMA there are literal aspects to that
sentence. In the ‘Content’ book there is an image of
the Seagram Building with two Photoshopped tits
hanging out of the façade. Here in Dubai it seems
one of the tits has made it – be it smaller and more
stylized - into the actual proposal… Or doesn’t it?

Another bad joke would be to suggest with this project the
Modernist slab is finally literally cut loose from its context,
as the proposed building is supposed to turn. The
renderings however show a nicely cut landscape in
which the project is granted a premier location, including
a ring of ‘spectator’ high-rises.

According to the website of OMA the status of the project
is that of an ‘ongoing concept.’ I hope the project will make it to reality.

I just realize that the Renaissance building is both retro
(Modernist) and an improvement of that retro (bigger, better, bolder).
Turning back to early Modernism and reworking it can result
in something new, something that is again contemporary.
Like the Italian Renaissance was a re-appropriation of the
Roman architecture, this ‘Renaissance’ is a redoing of Modernism.
As a design method it is a step back to the time before
Modernism when reworking and improving historic
examples was all the practice there was. Now Modernism
has become our architectural history.

Special thanks to http://www.eikongraphia.com/
Dubai Towers

“The four towers, ranging from 54 to 97 floors, are clustered to form a
choreographed sculpture, representing the movement of candlelight”,
the architect write in their press release from January this year.

A “[…] dramatic, […] sophisticated, […] innovative, […] creative,
[…] inspired, […] cutting-edge, […] bold, […] exceptional, […] landmark”,
it also reads.

The architecture firm Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback and Associates
(who?), TVS Associates (oh, they!), try hard, and play hard. Dubai
Towers is definitely the next thing in architecture form, after
Foster’s iconic Swiss Re tower in central London.

It is mystery why the architects thought it was necessary to come up with the candlelight-iconography. Maybe confused by Charles Jencks’ Iconic Building,
they thought: ‘We need that too.’ Well girls and guys, you really don’t need that!

Candlelight… that looks totally different, it is not related to the program
(offices, and hotels), it is not derived from the context, and most of all:
where is the virtue? One better not suggest the connection ‘office building – fire’
. Look at the design, like you need any iconography! There is enough already.

The towers twist, wave and taper. All at the same time. Note that the twisting is
hardly visible, it is really subtle. Swiss Re merely suggested the twisting,
Dubai Towers does it. And the effect is enormous. It is for the first time in
architecture history – as far as I know – these three parameters are
combined in reality. Dubai Towers take architectural form to a new level.

AMO shows the project repeatedly in ‘Al Manakh’, because for them it
symbolizes the definite step in the prevalence of form. The only step left,
OMA proposes, is to get back to the modernist slab. ‘The game is over’,
Koolhaas says.

I don’t think so. The rejection by OMA should be read as a compliment
for the project. There is so much more advancement in form left. Color,
lines, skeletons, relief, screens, dents, holes, etcetera; this is just the beginning.

There must be noted something else about the Dubai Towers in Dubai.
The developer Sama has announced other ‘Dubai Towers’ in Doha (Qatar),
Casablanca (Morocco), and Istanbul (Turkey). The developments in
Dubai have become a brand in itself, which in its turn can simply be
exported over Muslim countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

Postscript: Every distinct form evokes iconography, Dubai Towers also.
When browsing Flickr I found this photograph of a gate with forms that
looked very familiar… To pinpoint an iconography for this project that
actually fits is not necessary, but the candlelight nonsense triggered by
me the question
for a more appropriate metaphor. The metaphor of ‘tentacles’
(of some sort of monster, I suppose), that I read at
Skyscrapernews is funny but not right. Personally I played
with the idea of ‘flames’ or ‘seaweed’.
That is not really it, but crucial for me is that the twisting and
waving form of the project reminds me of something that moves in
the wind. And that is a nice image.

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