Dubai 8: Dubai Towers

Dubai Towers (Copyright TVS Associates)
Dubai Towers (Copyright TVS Associates) (click-2-enlarge)

“The four towers, ranging from 54 to 97 floors, are clustered to form a choreographed sculpture, representing the movement of candlelight”, the architect write in their press release from January this year.

A “[…] dramatic, […] sophisticated, […] innovative, […] creative, […] inspired, […] cutting-edge, […] bold, […] exceptional, […] landmark”, it also reads.

The architecture firm Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback and Associates (who?), TVS Associates (oh, they!), try hard, and play hard. Dubai Towers is definitely the next thing in architecture form, after Foster’s iconic Swiss Re tower in central London.

It is mystery why the architects thought it was necessary to come up with the candlelight-iconography. Maybe confused by Charles Jencks’ Iconic Building, they thought: ‘We need that too.’ Well girls and guys, you really don’t need that!

Candlelight… that looks totally different, it is not related to the program (offices, and hotels), it is not derived from the context, and most of all: where is the virtue? One better not suggest the connection ‘office building – fire’. Look at the design, like you need any iconography! There is enough already.

The towers twist, wave and taper. All at the same time. Note that the twisting is hardly visible, it is really subtle. Swiss Re merely suggested the twisting, Dubai Towers does it. And the effect is enormous. It is for the first time in architecture history – as far as I know – these three parameters are combined in reality. Dubai Towers take architectural form to a new level.

AMO shows the project repeatedly in ‘Al Manakh’, because for them it symbolizes the definite step in the prevalence of form. The only step left, OMA proposes, is to get back to the modernist slab. ‘The game is over’, Koolhaas says.

I don’t think so. The rejection by OMA should be read as a compliment for the project. There is so much more advancement in form left. Color, lines, skeletons, relief, screens, dents, holes, etcetera; this is just the beginning.

Dubai Towers (Copyright TVS Associates)
Dubai Towers (Copyright TVS Associates)

Dubai Towers
Dubai Towers

Dubai Towers at Cityscape 2006 (Photograph: Skyscrapercity)
Dubai Towers at Cityscape 2006 (Photograph: Skyscrapercity)

Dubai Towers at Cityscape 2006 (Photograph: Skyscrapercity)
Dubai Towers at Cityscape 2006 (Photograph: Skyscrapercity)

There must be noted something else about the Dubai Towers in Dubai. The developer Sama has announced other ‘Dubai Towers’ in Doha (Qatar), Casablanca (Morocco), and Istanbul (Turkey). The developments in Dubai have become a brand in itself, which in its turn can simply be exported over Muslim countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

Dubai Towers Istanbul, Turkey
Dubai Towers Istanbul, Turkey

Postscript: Every distinct form evokes iconography, Dubai Towers also. When browsing Flickr I found this photograph of a gate with forms that looked very familiar… To pinpoint an iconography for this project that actually fits is not necessary, but the candlelight nonsense triggered by me the question for a more appropriate metaphor. The metaphor of ‘tentacles’ (of some sort of monster, I suppose), that I read at Skyscrapernews is funny but not right. Personally I played with the idea of ‘flames’ or ‘seaweed’. That is not really it, but crucial for me is that the twisting and waving form of the project reminds me of something that moves in the wind. And that is a nice image.

Gate (Photographer: kWentin/Flick)
Gate (Photographer: kWentin/Flickr)

Dubai 1: The story so far
Dubai 2: Palm Jumeirah
Dubai 3: Palm Jebel-Ali
Dubai 4: Palm Deira
Dubai 5: The World
Dubai 6: Burj Al Arab
Dubai 7: Burj Dubai
Dubai 8: Dubai Towers
Dubai 9: Dubai Renaissance
Dubai 10: The Cloud


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