As a change of pace from our usual Top Ten World Architecture series, we thought we’d celebrate the schemes that have fallen victim to the Credit Crunch and have either been put on hold or cancelled completely – and where better than Dubai, one of the fastest expanding cities in the world and home to the current tallest building in the world. Sadly, Dubai wasn’t immune to the worldwide recession, with the government at one stage having to rely on bailouts from Abu Dhabi to avoid defaulting on loans, and many of its more extreme projects were shelved due to financial restraints and lack of investment. We take a look at the best – and strangest – projects that are currently on hold or sadly may never be.
1. IRIS CRYSTAL TOWER
The Iris Crystal – left render from Iris; central and right render from Aedas
Featuring a sinuous twist to a luxury commercial tower, The Iris Crystal was designed by Aedas as an eye-catching structure that took inspiration from its location at the head of an artificial bay and based its form on cascading water. The striking double skin exterior, made up of an inner façade of glazing protected by an outer solar screen, reminiscent of Arabic sun screens, was designed to protect the tower from solar gain. The tower was to be built in the Business Bay section of Dubai – a brand new ‘city within a city’ concept that was to be developed between 2008 and 2012-15. Many projects in this area have suffered from financial difficulties of some sort, and the Iris Crystal is no exception. Despite selling 60% of the available let space by June 2008, the tower has suffered massive delays, with no superstructure in place as yet and no official announcement as to when construction will begin again.
Left: Hydropolis Centre: concept room Right: Overhead view of Resort and Land Station – renders from designbuild-network and impactlab
The premise of Hydropolis – a hotel submerged 20 metres below sea level – may seem like something out of a sci-fi movie, but a joint venture between German designer Joachim Hauser and financier Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai almost led to underwater living becoming a reality. Visitors would reach the hotel from the land station, taking an underground train to the main resort complex situated just off Jumeira Beach. This complex has been designed with reference to the human nervous system, with restaurants, bars, meeting rooms and suites extending away from the ballroom as a central point, acting as the ‘heart’. The ballroom would not be fully submerged, with the roof retractable to allow open air events to take place – even as the view from the windows shows an underwater scene. Unfortunately, with a price tag of $300 million to construct the 220 suite resort, the project tailed off as the recession hit and has been indefinitely delayed as of 2008.
3. THE LIGHTHOUSE TOWER
The Lighthouse Tower – renders by WS Atkins & Partners
Designed by WS Atkins, who were also behind the Burj Al Arab and the Bahrain World Trade Center, the Lighthouse Tower was designed as an eco-friendly alternative to the usual super-tall skyscrapers shooting up around Dubai. Rather than being one solid tower, the structure is actually made up of two separate towers connected by a series of bridges and sky-gardens and clad in over 4,000 solar panels. It was also planned to attach three wind turbines to the south-facing façade, creating between 700 and 900 megawatt hours of energy. Even the lifts were designed in such a way that a lift heading downwards would create 30% of the energy required for a simultaneously ascending lift. Overall, the designers planned to reduce energy consumption by 65% and water consumption by 40% compared to a standard skyscraper. The idea of a ‘lighthouse’ therefore is symbolic of the Lighthouse Tower being a new style of tower, lighting the way forward. Sadly, however, despite winning awards for sustainable design, the tower has now been cancelled.
4. DUBAI OPERA HOUSE
Dubai Opera House – Images courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects and designboom
Brainchild of Zaha Hadid, the celebrated Iraqi-British architect, the Dubai Opera House was to be built in the new Lagoons development of Dubai. The development, which would have spanned over seven interlinking artificial islands and included residential and commercial developments along with hotels, a museum, a marina and the Opera House, was estimated to cost around $25 billion, but construction was delayed in 2008 and subsequently suspended. This obviously impacted on the development of the Opera House, unfortunately leading to its cancellation. Had the project survived, the project would have included a 2,500 seat opera house, an 800 seat playhouse, an art gallery, performing arts school, two libraries, an outdoor theatre and a luxury 6 star hotel. The structure was designed to emulate the gentle peaks and troughs of sand dunes, with a graceful timelessness that sets it apart from many of the standard commercial towers that have already been built in Dubai.
5. THE PAD
The Pad – renders by James Law Cybertecture
Possibly the first building to be inspired by a global corporation, the Pad derived its unusual look from the iPod, imitating the look of the iconic mp3 player resting in a docking station. Designed by James Law, an architect specialising in cybertecture, the 230 residential apartments were to feature futuristic technology to appeal to a young, urban generation. Planned facilities included iHealth (technology to measure your weight, blood pressure and temperature in your bathroom), iAmbience (lighting that changes to indicate that you’ve received email, phone calls and text messages), iReality (panoramas from other parts of the world projected onto windows) and iArt (a server that you can subscribe to and update the artwork in your apartment). The complex would also include spa, gym, swimming pool, oxygen bar, nightclub, running track and barbeque and gathering areas. Rooms were projected to cost from US$343,688 for a studio apartment to US$901,158 for a two bedroom apartment, and more than 90% of the apartments were pre-sold. However, construction of The Pad has hit delays after a promising start, and the project is currently on hold with no news as to when the development might begin to develop momentum again.
More cancelled or on hold projects next week, including the Burj Al Alam and the Abu Dhabi Sky Bridge Hotel