A new observation tower will be built in Dubai, and it’s already being billed as an “architectural wonder that will be as great as Burj Khalifa and Eiffel Tower”. That’s great, but what I really want to know is this: Will it catch on fire?
The new tower’s design, a contemporary take on traditional Islamic architecture, was selected earlier this month by the UAE in a secret competition. It’s being built by Emaar Properties, the developers who built the Burj Khalifa. And the same developers who built the Dubai skyscraper that dramatically caught on fire on New Year’s Eve due to faulty wiring.
The Address tower in Dubai smoking after a New Year’s Eve fire. AP Photo/Jon Gambrell, File
There aren’t many specific details about this observation tower. The height hasn’t been disclosed, but in renderings the building looks at least three times as tall as existing 30-storey towers around it. There also is no mention of whether or not the structure will use aluminium-composite cladding, a cheap material known to be flammable, and the same one that fuelled the New Year’s Eve fire and the three other major skyscraper fires that have occurred in the city since 2012.
A rendering of the observation tower, which is planned for the Dubai Creek Harbour
Chances are good that it won’t, since the architect behind the tower, Santiago Calatrava, is kind of a one-trick pony. He only builds white, bony infrastructure that don’t use this kind of cladding at all. Calatrava is also known for projects that are completed late and at tremendous costs to cities. His World Trade Center Transportation Hub for Manhattan is still not open, for example, and has already earned the title of the World’s Most Expensive Transit Station and World’s Most Expensive Hallway.
So don’t worry, Dubai. Should Calatrava’s tower ever catch on fire, it will certainly look great as it smoulders. But it’s far more likely that building won’t even get finished for many, many years. And by that time, you’ll likely have the jetpack firefighter squadron up and running anyway.