Architects keen on Calatrava-designed tower at Dubai Creek project

Observation tower will form a focal point for the Dubai Creek project between Emaar Properties and Dubai Holding.

Vice President and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid reviewed the designs proposed by international consultancy houses for a new tower to be built by Emaar in the Dubai Creek area. Wam
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The new Santiago Calatrava-designed observation tower, which will be the centrepiece of Emaar Properties' Dubai Creek project, has been welcomed by architects.

The tower’s design was approved by Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Saturday, following an international design competition featuring six consultancy firms.

The winning design by the Spanish-Swiss architect provides a modern twist on Islamic architecture, and was described by Sheikh Mohammed as an “architectural wonder that will be as great as Burj Khalifa and the Eiffel Tower”, according to the state news agency Wam.

The height of the tower has not been specified but in drawings provided by Emaar it looms high over neighbouring towers.

Emaar said a name for the tower has not yet been chosen. Its chairman Mohamed Alabbar said the new tower would prove to be a cultural and tourist landmark, adding that construction would begin within the next few months.

The tower is to be linked to a central island district within the Dubai Creek Harbour district, which is being developed by Emaar and Dubai Holding.

The pair signed a joint venture to develop Dubai Creek Harbour in October 2013, stating that it would be a master-planned city over 6 million square metres – three times the size of Emaar’s Downtown Dubai district.

Last month, Emaar Properties also said that it had started work on Dubai Creek Residences – a network of six residential towers of 30 to 40 storeys being built on the same island district.

The construction contract was awarded to Al Basti & Muktha and the towers are scheduled for completion in 2018.

P Martin Dufresne, design principal and partner at U+A Architect, said that in choosing a design from a “signature” architect such as Mr Calatrava, Dubai is taking a different approach than it did when developing Burj Khalifa. “I think it’s quite brilliant that they are coming in with a Calatrava. He is a class A architect [responsible] for monumental projects – things that are always pushing the limits of engineering.”

Mr Dufresne drew similarities between the appointment of Mr Calatrava to build this tower and Bilbao’s appointment of Frank Gehry to build its Guggenheim museum, which gained the city international attention when it opened in 1997.

“Of course, Dubai doesn’t need that, but it adds to the sophistication that the city is trying to reach in terms of its architecture. So I think it’s a really good choice.”

Paul Priest, a director and head of Mena studios for the architecture firm Benoy, said that he felt the Calatrava-designed tower “will be an excellent addition to Dubai’s skyline”.

Mr Priest said: “Well-designed buildings become signatures of the city.”

He added that it would play an important role in the development of the wider Dubai Creek area.“Towers, by their nature are the iconography of wider developments and, as such, generators of investment and catalysts for change.

“It must be more than an icon and become a destination. How this is executed is yet to be seen, but promises to become another brilliant facet to the city of Dubai.”

Yahya Jan, a design director and vice president of Norr Group, said that this would be Dubai’s first purely observational tower, but that other cities like Toronto were well-known for them.

“I think it’s a great location for an observation tower. It’s in a natural, heritage setting. At the same time, it looks both down the creek to the heart of traditional Dubai and out towards the new Dubai – the Burj Khalifa, Downtown and beyond.”

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