The Cloud

When you think of impressive city skylines you may think of New York’s Manhattan, with the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, or perhaps a bit closer to home and London, with the uniquely shaped 30 St Mary Axe (aka the Gherkin) and the London eye, but Dubai’s skyline is one that is constantly on the up.  Breaking records for tallest and most extravagant buildings, and now even the (unofficial) craziest building ever!

Yes that’s it there in the distance, the Cloud.

Unveiled a couple of months ago at the International Design Forum, Lebanese architect Nadim Karam of Atelier Hapsitus presented the Cloud concept as a design to sit some 300m up in the air over Dubai, supported by slanted, and somewhat spindly looking, legs.

Dubai is one place that, despite recent times, has continued almost unprecedented growth and expansion, both upwards and outwards.  “Dubai is the ultimate city of mutation” and this architectural masterpiece looks like it could well have fallen straight out the sky, indeed, it is a cloud.

The Cloud is just one from a series of projects in the region (The ‘Desert’ and ‘Arabian Breeze’ to follow), inspired by the nomads who defined their lives in relation to sun, water and sand, following the borderless movements of clouds.  But it represents more than that, it offers a dreamy view, an inspiring view.   With an almost ‘anything is possible’ kind of approach, “the Cloud is a dream, suspended between artificiality and reality” offering so much more than a playful adventure.  Dubai as a city has a dream, and this is it.

The ‘raining’ structure offers the epitome of contrast for Dubai’s skyline, no more tall, hard-lined skyscrapers, this sits abreast the rigidity, floating as an organic, edge-less form.

I don’t know why you’d want to play cricket just there, but hey, why not?

It doesn’t just look good either, get up close and it may surprise you that the Cloud comprises a multitude of sustainable features.  From gardens and lakes, to spiral walkways intertwined with rotating bridges and terraces to sports platforms and even an auditorium!  Tubular lift shafts double as both structural integrity and access points which (in my mind) will offer a Charlie-and-the-great-glass-elevator-esque experience.  Who hasn’t dreamed of that since reading the book? The 20,000sq m landscape sits over a pool (presumably symbolic of a rain puddle from the ‘drizzling’ legs) which beautifully and euphorically reflects a series of columns up to the floating cloud.

The AGU (Advanced Geometry Unit) at ARUP (the incredible company behind such projects as the Water Cube Aquatics Centre for the Beijing Olympics and the Chanel Travelling Pavillion ) is working in collaboration with Atelier Hapsitus to make this a reality.

Plan and section sketch views.

Hands up who wants to go to Dubai in a few years!


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