Aside from a few ancient texts, there’s no conclusive proof the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world), actually existed. Still, Emaar Properties is building on this mythical “tall tale” as it transforms Dubai’s skyline with the world’s tallest skyscraper—again.
Emaar, the government-backed developer of the 2,717-foot-high Burj Khalifa (currently the world’s tallest building), unveiled plans to construct “The Tower,” an even taller Dubai skyscraper whose upper observation decks represent the ancient Hanging Gardens—rumored to have been among the supreme engineering marvels of its time (circa 600 BC). This 8th wonder of the world, scheduled for completion by 2018, will be a centerpiece of the vast Dubai Creek Harbour project and the city’s 2020 World Expo.
Designed by Spanish-Swiss neo-futurist architect Santiago Calatrava Valls, the $1 billion glimmering skyscraper will boast at least 20-mixed use floors, a boutique hotel, panoramic restaurants, a “Pinnacle Room” with 360-degree views, VIP observation garden decks that recreate the Hanging Gardens, and rotating balconies that literally extend outside the building. The super-scraper’s overall design is influenced by a lily flower and minarets, distinctive features of Islamic culture and architecture, particularly on mosques.
“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,” said Calatrava, who also designed the new World Trade Centre Transportation Hub in New York, Calgary Peace Bridge and the Olympic Sports Complex in Athens. “It is a symbol of an abiding belief in progress.”
The project has the seal of approval from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the United Arab Emirates’ vice president, prime minister and ruler of Dubai. The skyscraper features a super-slim profile with a floating oval-shaped bud ascending to the top observation areas which will be highlighted as a light beacon at night. Even the structural core and tension cables disguised as the delicate veins of lily leaves (which anchor the building to the ground) will showcase dynamic lighting—including kinetic lighting effects.
The Tower complex will integrate sustainability features, including green corridors and an environment-friendly tram service that connects pedestrians to various plaza access points and Dubai Creek Harbour, a 2.3-square mile waterfront development (located near the airport and a renowned wildlife sanctuary) that’s two times the size of downtown Dubai.
This planned redevelopment of “old Dubai” boasts Emaar-built high-end residences—Dubai Creek Residences, Creekside 18, and most recently, Harbour Views homes in The Island District, a vibrant young neighborhood. Dubai Creek Harbour also comprises a nearby marina, yacht club, event spaces, galleries, retail stores, the trendy Vida hotel, and a 2.8-mile Creek Boardwalk that envelopes The Island District. All areas will boast impressive views of future The Tower.
There’s no official word on The Tower’s final height but it will have stiff competition in the race to the clouds. The Tower’s stratospheric apex will compete with its sibling Burj Khalifa (829 meters tall); Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Tower (under construction at 1,008 meters); Iraq’s proposed tower “The Bride” (1,152 meters tall); “The Mile,” an unattached conceptual green observation deck park (1,609 meters); and Tokyo’s proposed Sky Mile Tower (1,699 meters) scheduled for completion in 2045.