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Aurecon collaborates with Santiago Calatrava on new Dubai icon

The Tower, Dubai Creek Harbour

An artist impression of 'The Tower' at Dubai Creek Harbour (image courtesy of Emaar)

14 June 2016 - Work on an iconic new structure – set to become one of the world’s most recognisable buildings – has started in Dubai. 

The supertall skyscraper will be the focal point of a major new development that will transform the Dubai Creek Harbour area into one of the most desirable residential and leisure destinations in the world.  

Known simply as ‘The Tower’, the new structure at Dubai Creek Harbour is being designed by world-renowned architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava who is leading its design and engineering work. Calatrava has chosen Aurecon as the engineer/architect-of-record to collaborate with on a range of design and technical features for the ambitious project.

Adrian Jones*, Aurecon’s Project Director for The Tower said, “The Calatrava team were looking to work directly with our experts who have had hands-on project experience on other supertall and similar mega projects. Not only were they assured of such a working arrangement, they were further impressed by our open, flexible and collaborative approach.”

“The Tower will test the craftsmanship of Aurecon as we play our part in making a mark on the built fabric of mankind,” Jones said. “It is an absolute privilege to be entrusted by Santiago Calatrava and Emaar Properties to work on this project, and we have assembled a stellar team to bring this idea to life.”

The supertall building’s striking design includes a distinctive net of steel cable stays that attach to a central reinforced concrete column that will reach into the skies. At the top of the tower is an oval-shaped bud that will house ten observation decks, including The Pinnacle Room, which will offer unprecedented, 360-degree views of the city and beyond. It will also serve as a beacon of light at night, with a lighting system that will evoke the features of a flower bud, as it seemingly hovers atop the structure.  

The high-profile project was unveiled to the world at a launch ceremony by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. Announcing the launch was Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Properties, the Dubai-based company that commissioned the project, who hoped The Tower would encapsulate the spirit of Dubai.

“The Tower in Dubai Creek Harbour will be a shining beacon of hope for the world, celebrating diversity and human achievements. The iconic landmark will further amplify the country’s ambition and futuristic vision,” he said. “The design is a perfect fit for our requirements and integrates not just design excellence, but also strong environmental and smart-tech considerations. With The Tower, we are delivering a compelling destination that will add long-term economic value to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.”

A towering team

Design work for the project is already underway. Timing is one of the biggest challenges on the project and will call for close collaboration from all stakeholders. The ambitious project must be completed in a period of approximately four years, so creating an efficient design and construction schedule will be vital. 

Aurecon has assembled its top global experts to contribute to the project, with work being led by the company’s Middle East office with input from offices in Africa, Asia and Australia. Optimising proven techniques and materials is fundamental to the project’s success. 

At the same time, we must work to maximise the potential of those materials and techniques. What’s different in The Tower is that we’ll be pushing the use of these techniques beyond current norms to create something unparalleled.

A design dream

The iconic Calatrava design was selected from six proposals that were submitted by top global architectural firms. It is influenced by the natural forms of the lily, evoking the shape of a minaret - a distinctive architectural feature in Islamic culture. It combines modern, sustainable design with the rich culture and heritage of the United Arab Emirates. 

One of the most breath-taking design features on The Tower is the net of cable stays that extend from the tower to the ground, reflecting the delicate ribbing of lily leaves. The elongated oval-shaped bud and geometric texture set the template for the observation decks. The slender stem serves as the analogy for the structure, which is engineered to its most efficient diameter. 

Calatrava also designed the tower with a strong focus on energy efficiency and sustainability, including a highly-efficient cooling system to mitigate the region’s hot climate. The water collected from this system will also clean the structure’s facade, for example. Elegant landscaping and vegetation on and around the tower will encourage solar protection. An integrated shading system and wing doors will also contribute to its energy efficiency.

Among the various decks within The Tower are two VIP observation garden decks that will recreate the splendour of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The building will also include numerous balconies that rotate outside the facade of the tower, an exclusive boutique hotel, and several event spaces. At ground level, The Tower’s Central Plaza will serve as a bustling neighbourhood centre, with world-class retail stores, a museum, educational facilities and an indoor auditorium. 

The Tower is scheduled to open in mid-2020 to celebrate the start of Expo 2020 in Dubai. 

Emaar Properties are a property developer who see their mission as nation-building. As architects and engineers there is nothing more humbling than being invited to build a nation.

*Roy Fullard has replaced Adrian Jones as the PD for the Tower.

Images courtesy of Emaar Properties / Santiago Calatrava

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