Neri Oxman, an unconventional architect
Must-sees of a city that is already in the future: Dubai
A journey through time on the trail of creativity, amidst contemporary wonders and visions of the future
Today's Dubai is a stunning blend of contemporary creativity and futuristic planning
Dubai. What to see to make a wonderful journey through time and space, moving from the city of the future to that of today? There is a way to discover fantastic planning endeavors: along a 9-stop, over thousand-day itinerary through visionary intuitions, luxury solutions and sci-fi technologies.
In order to take the first steps towards this extraordinary exploration, we need to start from its ending, closing our eyes and reopen them to find ourselves in the Dubai of the future, with its brand-new look inspired by the leading theme of the 2020 Universal Exhibition: Connecting Minds, Creating The Future.
On occasion of this important event, this capital city located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf will turn – or, better said, will evolve – into the earth’s most sustainable metropolis, equipped with green neighborhoods, as big as cities, airports that will be able to manage hundreds of millions of passengers, spectacular museums, state-of-the-art health hubs and lively creative districts.
Among the most suggestive new entries, the slender silhouette of The Tower - over a km in height – is destined to become the world’s highest building ever. The skyscraper’s outlines, born from the imagination of archi-star Santiago Calatrava, will bring back to mind the elegant, organic geometries of lilies and the solemn shapes of minarets.
In addition to the city’s new landmark there will be plenty of other spectacular structures, like Aladdin City, an eccentric residential complex including three towers connected by bridges and inspired by the shape of the famous magic lamp. Or The Frame by Fernando Donis, a colossal structure made of two, 150m high towers that will literally frame the capital’s gorgeous views.
The road network in the Dubai of the future will rely on a revolutionary, autonomous eco-mobility system named Hyperloop One (read also → Big Architects inventa il viaggio supersonico con Hyperloop One). The project, developed in collaboration with studio BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group, will finally sanction supersonic driving by means of an enlightened combination of low pressure pipes, levitation systems and modular cars more similar to comfortable, bespoke livings than to traditional vehicles.
The super curious, those who could never even imagine a three-year’s wait, can however count on the futuristic charm of the contemporary city. Here, then, a selection of things to see in today’s Dubai.
Despite its constantly threatened record, the Burj Khalifa – over 800m high – remains one of the most incredible works of human intelligence. A futuristic blend of art, technology and tradition that is rightfully included in the Dubai must-see category. Designed by studio Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the building makes for an extraordinary vertical city literally piercing the clouds. Its interiors host almost 900 private apartments alongside hotels and exclusive restaurants. A special place where to live a unique experience: in no other place in the whole world, in fact, it is possible to watch a double sunset. Here, after watching the sun going down beyond the horizon line, visitors can reach the top of the Burj Khalifa in a matter of seconds thanks to the skyscraper’s high-speed elevators, to relive once more the emotion of seeing the sun setting.
In order to get a glimpse of this wonderful upcoming world, you just have to pop in at the Dubai's Museum of the Future Office Building, the first office in the world to have been made by employing a 3D printing process, a technology for which Dubai aims at becoming the ultimate Eldorado. Begotten by a 6m high, 36m long, 12m wide printer, after a process of over two weeks and 48 hours assembly, the office is made of a special mixture of concrete and other building materials, developed right here in the United Arab Emirates. The structure’s 250 square meters will house events, exhibitions and design pieces.
Built on an artificial island and more than 300m high, the Burj Al Arab, more than a luxury hotel, is an actual archipelago of comfort. The stunning 7-star edifice is worldwide famous also by virtue of its iconic shape recalling that of a billowing Arabian dhow sail, designed by architect-designer Tom Wright. A remarkable technical challenge that has been won thanks to an innovative stark white structure made of glass fiber fabric with a Teflon coat that at night becomes animated with spectacular lighting phantasmagorias. Its interiors make for a unique universe made of precious materials – over 30 different kinds of marble, 1800sqm of 24k gold foil, and 44.000sqm of glass.
If you’d like to enjoy a memorable dining experience in a cozy, informal environment, Pots Pans & Boards is the thing for you. Designed by London Michaelis Boyd studio for British chef Tom Aikens, this original concept restaurant offers simple tasty food, served straight on trays or in pots to share together. The restaurant interiors feature an elegant family style, embellished by adding recycled furnishings, objects found in flea markets, glazed tiles, bright blue leather claddings, and industrial-style suspension lamps.
The final stage of our Dubai itinerary and must-sees has a lot to do with a timeless quality: imagination. Located on Street 8, Al Quoz 1, Arsekal Avenue is a former marble factory converted into an energetic commercial and artistic hub. Here, among sizzling kick scooters and luxurious racecars, you can find a series of co-working stations and about sixty exhibition spaces, including galleries run by professionals from all over the world, design studios and real paradises for lovers of vintage cars, retro furnishings and sneakers.
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