Calatrava’s masterpiece tower could top Burj Khalifa

The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour (6)

Renowned Spanish/Swiss architect Santiago Calatrava has vowed to create a “monument to our time” as further details of the observation tower he designed for Dubai Creek Harbour are revealed. The structure, centrepiece of the Dubai Creek Harbour development, could be a “notch” taller than  the Burj Khalifa in height although its exact dimensions have not been disclosed.

It will be located in close proximity to the Ras Al Khor National Wildlife Sanctuary, protected under UNESCO and home to over 67 species of water birds.

The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour (6)


Neo-futurist Calatrava, his son Micael, who is an engineer, along with developers Emaar showcased the project with renderings, scale models and a video presentation.

“Our generation has the capacity to make a statement and where else in the world would we want to do this?” said Calatrava who won a competitive international design pitch for this new landmark, which included submissions from five global architectural firms.

“It is a privilege for me to be part of this, in one of the most innovative countries in the world in terms of architecture. I am thinking big thoughts, which come from the heart, to create something for future generations.

“A hundred years ago the Eiffel Tower was created and it has inspired designers and artists ever since. In all modesty, I feel so proud to be part of a similar achievement. We have the faith and belief to deliver a building which will still be there in 100 years and so young people [in the future] will say ‘they believed in us’.”

Emaar, who held the unveiling at its sales centre said the entire Creek Harbour project would be over 6km2 which is twice the size of Downtown Dubai. It will be located close to the origins of the city which grew up around The Creek before the centre moved to Downtown.

The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour (5)

The tower will be at the centre of what the developers called a “new smart city of the future” which will include 6.79m2 of residential space, 11.16m2 of retail facilities, 851,000m2 of commercial property, with 22 hotels offering 4,400 rooms and much leisure use of the 4.5km of boardwalk waterfront.

Commenting on the tower, Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, said  it could be a “notch taller than Burj Khalifa” and stated it is a special honour and privilege to contribute to the progress of the city by building elegant monuments that add value, but also “celebrate human dreams, achievements and progress”.

He said: “The Creek development is unique because it is the first time that the city is coming back to its roots and the Creek is really the root of the city. We go back and pay respect to the core and the base of the city of Dubai.”

Fusion TIFF File

The developer the tower will add long-term economic value to Dubai and the UAE as well as provide visitors and residents with a modern, luxurious and sustainable environment.

Alabbar added: “The design by Santiago Calatrava, chosen after a competitive pitch from the world’s top architects, was a perfect fit to our requirement for a landmark that defined our urban core for Dubai Creek Harbour. It integrates not just design excellence but also strong environmental and smart-tech considerations.”

The tower will have apartments, meeting places, observation decks which will offer 360-degree views and gardens on different levels. The VIP observation garden decks will recreate the splendour of the ‘Hanging Gardens of Babylon,’ one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The concrete central core will be clad in steel and glass and surrounded by cables “like a beautiful necklace” which will change colour. Completion is scheduled to be by 2020 and costs are estimated at $1bn.

The city’s Islamic roots will be symbolised by its resemblance to a minaret. Emaar likened it to a “flowering lily bud, nature’s perfectly balanced creation of beauty, function and form” adding “the tower is a symbol of diversity, inclusion and human achievement. A gift to be enjoyed for generations to come.”

The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour (7)

Calatrava said: “This will be a monument to our time and we will be using technology that was not available even three or four years ago. [The project] is a message of hope and belief in the future of this country and in all of us. We are creating a flower which will flourish and enhance the already beautiful skyline of the city.

“The design has clear reference to the classic art of the past and the culture of the place while serving as a great technological achievement. In my whole career, I have perceived technology as a vehicle to beauty and to art. This project envisages an artistic achievement in itself, inspired by the idea of welcoming people, not only from Dubai and the UAE but from the entire world. It is a symbol of an abiding belief in progress.”

Calatrava’s accomplished works include the World Trade Centre Transportation Hub in New York, Calgary Peace Bridge, the Olympic Sports Complex in Athens and the Turning Torso Tower in Malmö, which was recently awarded the 10 Year Award from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, among others.

The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour (4)

Design palette

The elongated oval-shaped bud and geometric texture set the template for the observation decks. The slender stem serves as the analogy for the structure, which is engineered to its most efficient diameter. It is linked to the ground with sturdy cables, in turn, inspired by the delicate ribbing of the lily leaves. The cable array gives the structure its strength, anchoring the ‘bud’ securely to the ground with technical precision.

Precision Engineering

The design will be finalised following elaborate wind tunnel testing and all mandatory seismic testing. Every aspect of The Tower is designed and being developed to the highest international standards of safety – from the choice of materials to the technology being used.


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