Monday, 24 April 2006

Burj Al Arab Hotel - WS Atkins

The posting tonight is of the iconic 'seven-star' Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai by Atkins Design, a building probably already well-known throughout the world. Expains architect Tom Wills-Wright, the hotel was designed deliberately to be iconic, to test which he devised a simple 'litmus test,' as he explains here:
The brief was to create a building that would become an icon for Dubai rather like Sydney has its Opera House and Egypt has the pyramids. The brief was given by Jumierah International who wanted something novel, different, which can be symbol of Dubai.

The litmus test we used to assess if we had fulfilled the brief was to see if we could draw the building in five seconds pictionary style and ask everybody to name it.
He probably succeeded, don't you think? Not great architecture, but certainly exciting, and undoubtedly a modern icon -- and wouldn't you just love to play tennis up there with Andrei and Roger? :-)

LINKS: Atkins Design website
Burj Al Arab hotel website
Burj Al Arab - Galinsky.Com

TAGS: Architecture


  1. Just passed through Dubai on my way to London. Didn't get to stay at the Burj Al Arab :( Unfortunately, someone pointed out to me that it resembles a giant cockroach with its head buried in the sand and now I'm stuck with that image.

    When you look out to sea from Jumeirah Beach near the Burj Al Arab you see a line of sand extending nearly right across the horizon. That line of sand is an artificial creation: "The World". On the way to Jumeirah Beach, you pass the construction site of the Burj Dubai, where most of the world's cranes appear to have migrated. Close to the Burj Al Arab is the new Mall of the Emirates which has within its belly not just an artificial ski slope with real snow, but an entire ski resort complete with chairlifts! Massive projects indeed, but I can't say I spotted any truly great archecture amongst all this; iconic archecture yes. Given that there is now competition within this city to build the world's tallest building, maybe somebody should shove a picture of Frank Lloyd Wright's Mile High Tower under a Dubai developer's nose (although the Burj Dubai does kinda look like it)?

  2. I stayed at the Jumeirah Beach Resort beside the Burj Al Arab in 2001 with a colleague who was once trained as an architect, he looked at the Burj and said "Fuck I don't beleive it!" "What?" I asked
    He replied "I think thats the first building I've ever seen where no-one has dicked with the architects original concept!"
    And sure enough he went and bought the "official" book and the only major change from the napkin sketch is the "mast" being straight rather than canted forward.
    The building is meant to be a sail billowing in from the Gulf.
    Dubai itself is a fascinating place, the ultimate property developers nirvana,a place where "audacious vision" is not only appreciated - it gets built!
    Sure some of it is really tacky (the Emirates "Plane" building) but for a city that built its first multi-storey in the 70's they've come a long way fast.

  3. Robert Winefield25 Apr 2006, 01:50:00

    "wouldn't you just love to play tennis up there"

    Be a bastard to be a ball-boy though...


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