The world's tallest tower is going up in Dubai, but just how tall it will be is a well-kept secret - and for good reason
I'm in Dubai, where I have been visiting various architects, engineers, consultants and contractors living and working in the area. Nearly all of them are loving it out here, or so it seems. There's a thriving expat community, there's more work than anyone can handle, and the sun shines every single day. Of course there's the downside too - horrendous traffic and expensive accommodation seem to be the worst complaints, from what I can understand - but on the whole it seems like a comfortable place to live.
What it isn't (well, Dubai City at least) is a beautiful place. But there are architects trying to make it more attractive. I spent some time here talking to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's Eric Tomich, one of the architects behind the world's tallest tower, the Burj Dubai.
It may be because it's twice the size of every other tower in town, but it really does look different from its neighbours and, to my surprise, more dignified
This half-completed giant, currently at 688m and rising, is to my mind surprisingly graceful. Where a lot of the other towers here are phallic monuments of varnished steel and coloured glass, the Burj Dubai sprouts from the ground in a more haphazard, organic manner. It may be because it's twice the size of every other tower in town, but it really does look different from its neighbours and, to my surprise, more dignified.
Of course, what everyone in town wants to know is how tall it's going to be. Tomich wisely kept mum in our conversation, because he knows that as soon as Dubai's developers know the Burj Dubai's final height, one of them will immediately announce their intention to build a taller one.
There are rumours of a 1km-high tower planned for Kuwait, but the Burj Dubai developers are confident that a taller tower than theirs will be difficult to build
There are rumours already of a 1km-high tower planned for Kuwait, but the Burj Dubai developers are apparently confident that a taller tower than theirs will be difficult to build.
Why? Because they will take far longer to complete than average towers, and property investors are used to their investments coming online quickly. If the real estate giants have to wait more than three years for their investment to be completed, the chances are they won't buy. The market's just too hot for long-term projects.
This column is taken from Dan Stewart's regular blog on architecture, design and related web-based buildng issues, Drawn State, which can be found at www.building.co.uk/blogs.