Calatrava’s dubai record-breaker



When the World Expo commences in Dubai in October 2020, all eyes will be on Dubai Creek Tower, Santiago Calatrava’s latest architectural and engineering feat.

The tower, which will soar 3,044 to 4,593 feet, will be the world’s tallest. (By design, the exact height won’t be revealed until it opens in 2020, so competitors with projects under construction can’t immediately try to inch past it. But the tower will be taller than the current title-holder, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, which topped out in 2009 at 2,722.44 feet.)

Sited on the waterfront of Dubai Creek, the cultural and historic center of the United Arab Emirates city, Calatrava’s observation tower will be the centerpiece of a larger luxury development district called Dubai Creek Harbour, which at 2.3 square miles, will be three times the size of downtown Dubai.

Dubai Creek Harbour is being marketed as a major tourist destination. It’s next to the 1,532-acre Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, the home of various migratory birds and 500 flamingos. The district will have seven islands that include office, residential, and retail buildings.

The tower is grounded by a complex web of cables
The tower is grounded by a complex web of cables.

Calatrava, the Spanish architect and engineer who designed the World Trade Center Transportation Hub in New York, the Turning Torso tower in Malmö, Sweden, and the City of Arts and Sciences entertainment complex in Valencia, Spain, modeled the Dubai Creek Tower on the natural forms of the lily and the shape of the minaret.

“The building’s design is inspired by the Islamic tradition, evoking the same history that brought the world the Alhambra and the Mosque of Córdoba,” he said in a statement after winning the design competition. “These architectural marvels combine elegance and beauty and mathematics and geometry. The design of the tower is rooted in classical art and the culture of Dubai. It is also a major technological achievement.”

The tower, which looks like a spaceship poised for takeoff, is anchored by artful cables meant to evoke the ethereal ribbing of the lily’s leaves. The system is reminiscent of the one Calatrava employed in Jerusalem’s Chords Bridge, which was inspired by the strings of a harp. The cables form a gossamer cocoon around the tower’s central stem, which terminates in an oval-shaped bud-like finial illuminated at night by a beacon of light.

The tower will have 10 observation decks, including the Pinnacle Room, with 360-degree views that span beyond the city. There also will be a series of decks, including two VIP observation spaces that recreate the ancient Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. One of the decks will include a café, and there will be event spaces throughout. The tower’s ground-level Central Plaza will include retail stores, a museum, educational facilities, and an indoor auditorium.

At night, Dubai Creek Tower will be illuminated by a beacon of light.
At night, Dubai Creek Tower will be illuminated by a beacon of light

In addition, the tower will have a number of balconies that rotate.

Energy-efficient and sustainable, the Dubai Creek Tower will feature a high-tech cooling system; water collected from it will clean the building’s facade. Landscaping and vegetation will help shield the structure from the sun, and an integrated shading system and wing doors will increase its green factor.

In announcing the selection of Calatrava’s design, Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of developer Emaar Properties, said it “was a perfect fit for our requirement for a landmark that defined our urban core for Dubai Creek Harbour.”

Noting that the tower will bring great economic value to Dubai and the U.A.E., he added that “it will position Dubai Creek Harbour as one of the most desired residential, leisure, and touristic attractions, providing tourists and residents with a modern, luxurious, and sustainable environment in which to live, work, learn, and entertain.”

Calatrava considers the tower a vehicle for art and beauty. “This project is an artistic achievement, inspired by the goal of making this space a meeting point for citizens, not only from Dubai and the U.A.E. but all across the world,” he said in a statement. “It is a symbol of belief in progress.”

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