DUBAI //Rather than having to crane your neck for a view, why not let the building do the work for you?
The Infinity Tower in Dubai Marina stands out among the more creative buildings across the Emirates with a new twist to architecture.
When completed, the high-rise will be the world's tallest twisted tower, at 73 storeys and 307 metres.
It may come as no surprise to learn that Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (Som), the architectural firm behind the Burj Khalifa, designed the striking tower.
"It is a piece of sculpture that is unusually large and that is the effect that we were really after … a large piece of sculpture that had this dynamic form," says Ross Wimer, a design partner at Som.
"The real idea behind the twist had to do with the views, because the primary views down low in the building are towards the marina but then the building twists as it goes up so the main units are oriented towards the Gulf, high up in the building."
Mr Wimer says that as soon as Som won the design contract, the company started working with its team of engineers to build the tower in the most efficient way.
The structure gradually twists 90 degrees.
"Each floor is actually exactly the same so it is almost as though you stacked up a pile of books and you twisted each book slightly to get the twist," Mr Wimer says.
"If you drilled a hole through a stack of books and put a pole in it and rotated each book just slightly, you would be able to create the same spiral shape."
The floors, which are rectangular, surround a cylindrical shaft that contains the lifts.
"Now all those things that run vertically in the building go straight up, they don't twist," Mr Wimer says. "In the core where the elevators and stairs are, there is a vertical shaft that goes up.
"It works almost like an axle of a car. It is a cylinder and all of the floors pivot around that cylinder. That allows us to bring all of the utilities to the floors."
The creativity of the design has not gone unnoticed. The tower received several awards based on its renderings in 2007 and 2008, among them Best International High Rise Architecture in the International Property Awards.
"The challenge of Infinity Tower is to distil a complex design idea into a simple structural solution with simple construction technology," says Bill Baker, a Som engineer who worked on the Burj Khalifa.
"The formwork used on every storey of the tower is the same. It was merely jacked up and rotated 0.3 degrees per metre or 1.08 degrees for a typical storey."
Although the tower is designed to attract the eye, it also wards off the elements.
"The shape of the tower is not only aesthetically unique but it serves a structural function as well," Mr Baker says.
"Its twisted shape greatly reduces wind forces on the tower. Its shape 'confuses the wind' in such a way that wind forces cannot organise themselves."
Having visited the project for the development company Cayan only a few weeks ago, Mr Baker says he is pleased to see the shape has worked out so well in relation to its location.
"I was pleasantly surprised that a lot of the things that we were pushing for in the design that led to the twisted shape really do work on the site," he says.
"Once you get to the upper floors, they have these dramatic views out to the sea.
"Now that the concrete is finished and they are about three quarters of the way with the exterior wall, it is quite stunning."