The skyscraper city that is Dubai’s Business Bay is still a work in progress with 2015 marking the completion of the first phase of development. The Dubai Creek extension covers the area from Ras Al Khor to Sheikh Zayed Road and will provide 1,600,000 square feet of office space. Situated a stone’s throw from the bustling Dubai Mall it offers not only commercial opportunities but also features hotel and apartment towers. Estimated costs of the waterside project are around USD$30 billion and when the development is eventually completed it will have around 240 buildings.
The Business Bay project begun in 2003 is the vision of United Arab Emirates’ Vice President and Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum. Initially, Sheikh Mohammed aimed to build the biggest office block in the Middle East to rival London’s Canary Wharf but building slowed during the global financial crisis of 2007/ 2008. With partly finished skyscrapers and skeletal frames, plus developers packing for more profitable shores, the future of the Business Bay looked shaky.
However, Sheikh Mohammed’s vision has expanded to include the residential and hospitality sector, and construction activity has picked up again in recent years with many office and apartment towers, and hotel buildings topping out.
Since this is Dubai, there are plenty of architectural feats to admire among the many standard glass and steel towers. The O-14, or ‘Swiss Cheese Tower’, is a 22 storey office tower situated on the waterside esplanade and recognisable for its white perforated concrete exterior shell. Designed by New York architects RUR Architecture, the building’s innovative shell leaves a space of one metre outside the windows. The passive airflow keeps the building’s interior cool and reduces energy costs by 30%.
The JW Marriott Marquis is another outstanding architectural feat, managing to top the list of the world’s tallest hotels. The 5 star twin-tower skyscraper, completed in 2012, has 77 floors and stands at a height of 1,165 feet. It boasts 804 rooms in each tower and offers guests a spa & wellness centre, 14 bars and restaurants and luxury rooms with panoramic city views.
Apartments in the Business Bay are initially expected to attract single professionals, rather than families who require greater access to nearby activities and restaurants. But with museums, art galleries and retail outlets planned, along with urban gardens and canals, roads and pathways, skyscraper city has the potential to be an exciting urban space.
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