13 October, 2008

Dubai design, unveiled


Atkins have done it again. The (locally) famed designers of the Burj al Arab have revealed a new design for what is set to become the World's third tallest building.

The new tower design for Tameer, as featured in the news today brilliantly captures the essence of architecture in Dubai:

What looks like a giant wind turbine at the top of the tower, set to harness wind energy and create sustainable electricity, is really a restaurant ‘pod’ propped up by three support ‘spokes’.

An empty formal gesture that promises something and fails to deliver, and whose sole purpose is commercial gain. An aesthetic gimmick that looks like ecologically sustainable engineering but actually serves dry Martini and grilled hammour.

In the words of Shaun Killa, Atkins' chief architect: "Buildings need to interact with the people instead of being part of a photograph".

I see. That must be the reason for constructing a 600m tall building. To enable 'interaction' between people whilst they wait twenty minutes in the lift lobbies at peaktimes. The "turbine" then is surely not a feature designed to attract attention to the building and be photographed. It further enables people to 'interact' by spending vast amounts of money in a restaurant at 600m height, whilst at Ground level the building 'interacts' with the streets around it by enabling a joyful merry-go-round of 1,000 + cars trying to access the podium car park.

Well done, Atkins.


2020hindsight said...

Isn't that pretty much where the Hard Rock is currently ?

Personally I'd prefer the Hard Rock, a masterpiece of understatement in comparison.

BuJassem said...

man, they are just there to make money...

anyone who is remotely involved in the building industry will know that building a skyscraper when u have loads of land is as sustainable as selling snow to an eskimo..

Keefieboy said...

But have you seen the WTC in Bahrain? That has three (I think) turbines built into it, and was also (I think) designed by Atkins.

I suspect they wanted that to be a real turbine but the client squashed it.

BuJassem said...

yeah keefie.. those 3 bahraini turbines by atkins on the WTC paid back so well they were on atkins' brochures for years selling their green credentials worldwide when they probably supplied under 5% of the building's electricity!

al said...

600m is not tallest, burj dubai is 700m already I think. Anyway the saudis just revealed a mile high tower that will squash them all so who cares.
Those wind turbines on the BWTC provide something like 15% of the power?

I don't know why you critisize atkins when they just design what they were asked to by the client. If someone asks you to design a 100 storey tower and instead you create 5 buildings of 20 storeys, no matter how good your design is your client will tell you to shag off and you won't get your bucket load of money.

By the way are tameer government owned? If they're not they can build whatever the hell they like as long as it's not completely ridiculous. If it's close to a metro station then I say build it, certainly better than building 20,000 houses with fake gardens that consume an insane amount of water, etc.

One thing I really don't like is those meraas guys since I don't like destroying established areas and also wasting $95bn. Since they like their big towers so much why not use that money to build a few of those mile high solar towers in the middle of the desert which would provide clean energy for the entire uae.

By the way nick since you like big towers so much you'll love this site:

UAE Students said...

I wonder if they abandoned the wind turbine because of potential danger. The cross-currents in Dubai can be powerful.
If you're interested in that sort of thing look up the story about the architecture students who, while doing research for a class, discovered that the CitiCorp Tower in New York could literally be blown over in certain weather conditions. Statistical probablility indicated these wind conditions could occur once every 16 years. The building had to be re-engineered, from the inside!

Abu Dhabi Blogger said...

The point is not that the design is good or bad. The issu is providing affordable, decent housing for the average resident. Do you think this "third tallest building" will do anything to achieve that objective? Secondly, we are in an unprecedented financial crisis and the UAE is not invincible. Wasting extravagant money on unoccupied towers is not the best deployment of resources when the whole world is scratching their heads over the optimum long-term asset allocation. A progressive state should make the lives of its residents comfortable, which is certainly NOT what Dubai is doing. This obssession with the tallest, largest and widest is insane and maybe a way to compensate for other areas where the CEOs are not faring well.
As far as alternative neergy is concerned, now THAT would be a good investment which is why I really like Masdar. The UAE has infinite access to the sun and the sea breeze is perfect for wind turbines. A better allocation of the energy capital would therefore be spending on alternative energy, NOT an empty (did I say that before, EMPTY) jungle of concrete with ill-treated labour.

the real nick said...


I don't criticize architects for spreading their legs and doing what they are paid to do. But I do criticize achitects who go round for ages mouthing off about how important sustainable design is and then sell out their beliefs. Sometimes you have to walk away (from a job)if your convictions are compromised.

For your information, this is called conscience. People have left Dubai for this reason.

the real nick said...


BuJ is right, they did design turbines on that building in Bahrain.
An attention grabbing PR spinning drop in the ocean in a region with the highest carbon footprint per capita in the world.

Btw, I know for a fact that Atkins' chief designer drives a Porsche 911. Almost a hybrid, you could say: A hybrid between 'saying' and 'doing' what's right.

DUBAI JAZZ said...

right on Nick, that Shaun dude is a jerk.

BuJassem said...

ah, this is a rare treat.. i actually agree with the real Nick!

i actually know one of their heads in atkins.. the guy is a really nice guy (i don't work there).. but drives both a 911 AND a cayenne.. hmmm sustainable, right?

btw Nick.. in our company (an Atkins competitor) we've got a policy to walk away from projects we deem unsuitable to our company profile.. e.g. nuclear facilities (we only do de-commissioning), tobacco factories, stupidly unsustainable buildings.. and the trick is telling everyone why we rejected it.

now i have to be frank and say this doesn't always translate into practice because different directors have different tolerances to these things, but officially this is the stand, which is good.

if you read the building journals in the UK, you'd find that rogers and fosters turned down a few big jobs recently on the basis that they are unsustainable.. i say bravo to them

however, we need to be realistic and educate clients beforehand about sustainability before we expect them to make informed decisions.

the real nick said...


rare indeed that we agree.

we need to be realistic and educate clients beforehand about sustainability before we expect them to make informed decisions

Unfortunately this translates normally into liberally bandying about words like 'sustainable' and 'life cycle costing' and 'blah'.

Truth is that 99% of developers don't care about these issues but only about the bottomline. Unless they are literally forced by the authorities to comply with BREAM or LEED requirements etc. they'll avoid it, educated or not.

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