x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Landmarks of Dubai to be captured in the frame

A team has been appointed to study the plans for the Dubai Frame, which won a competition for a new emblematic structure in the city

Artists impression of a prospective project called the Dubai Frame, which will be based in Za’abeel Park, Dubai.
Artists impression of a prospective project called the Dubai Frame, which will be based in Za’abeel Park, Dubai.

DUBAI // Dubai's civic body has reaffirmed its commitment to a project to build a giant picture frame to capture the Dubai skyline.

The Dubai Frame, which won a government-initiated competition for an emblematic new structure in May last year, has not yet moved to the construction stage, officials confirmed.

Initial steps have been taken, though a ground-breaking ceremony has not been scheduled, said Hussein Lootah, the municipality's director general.

"We have appointed a team to look at the design," he said. "It is quite complicated from an engineering point of view. We will make an announcement at a later date when there are developments."

The frame by the architect Fernando Donis was selected from 926 designs submitted for a tall emblematic structure in Za'abeel Park.

The ThyssenKrupp Elevator Architecture Awards were sponsored by Dubai Municipality, the body that would be responsible for building the structure.

The municipality has carried out a detailed cost analysis of the structure at current building rates.

The proposal put the size of the frame at 105 metres wide by 150 metres tall, with lifts in each shaft and an observation deck on the top. It would also include an underground car park, a library in the base of the structure and a cafe on a terrace on the crossbeam.

The design, which won Mr Donis a US$100,000 (Dh367,251)prize, was drawn up with the aid of Werner Sobek, a German engineering consultancy with offices in Dubai. The concept behind the structure, what Mr Donis calls "mass-produced classicism", has caught on elsewhere.

The Mexican-born architect won a competition last year to build a large door frame for the 2012 Olympics in London, based on a similar design in Dubai. However, the London Gate is designed mostly for pedestrian access, rather than as a viewing platform, as the Dubai Frame is intended to be. Mr Donis has travelled to Dubai more than 30 times, working on projects in various areas of the city for the architecture firm OMA. His experience in the city helped him to plan his design, he said.

"Dubai is a city full of emblems," he said. "Instead of adding another emblem, I wanted to build something to frame them all."

The competition was held to give Dubai another landmark structure along the lines of the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Sydney Opera House. It was also hoped that the building would boost tourism.

Mr Donis said that his design was meant to reflect the new economic reality.

"It would symbolise a new beginning of simplicity," he said.

mcroucher@thenational.ae