Modern icons: The UAE has been described as the modern architect's playground with new landmark buildings springing up across the country. Today we take a look at how the Dunes Hotel Apartments became a reality.
Nice wall, but where are the rooms?
DUBAI // Driving past the Mall of the Emirates, motorists may think the 14-storey structure looming over the byways of Barsha is much like any other of Dubai's many architectural marvels.
But a closer look at Dunes Hotel Apartments suggests otherwise.
The not-so-well-known structure overlooking the mall could easily be missed by those driving a tad too fast on the arterial Sheikh Zayed Road.
Designed to create an optical illusion, the building's paper-thin facade and triangular shape trick onlookers into believing it is two-dimensional.
Hotel guests have quizzed the management about the building's "weird" look.
"People have come and asked us about this two-dimensional look," said Rochelle Lobo, the general manager. "From certain places, it looks like its rear has been sliced off."
But engineers closely associated with the project say the design was inspired by logistical issues such as overcoming a lack of space. "The plot shape was a challenge," said KV Sharath Babu, the resident engineer of Al Harbi Properties, which owns Dunes Hotel Apartments.
"There was less plot on the rear side. We wanted to build the apartments in a triangular shape. We had to work with the available area," he said.
The engineers and architects were able to work around the constraints without compromising space in the 70, mostly one and two-bedroom rooms.
"Fixing glasses on the rear corner was extremely complicated," Mr Babu said. "The angle was almost zero degrees, which made the edges very sharp. Usually, the angle in building corners is 90 degrees. This huge variation required skill and planning."
Mr Babu, who has been with the project since the cornerstone was laid in August 2006, said that creating parking spaces to meet Dubai Municipality specifications was also a major issue.
"The usual driveway width required is six metres so cars can turn with ease and there is ample space for visitors to park. But with the given shape and size of the plot, it was much harder to implement that."
Ashraf Abdul Rahman, a projects manager with Al Habbai Contracting, which helped plan and design the building, said prior experience with difficult projects came in handy while planning the construction of the 5,486-square-metre building.
"The work was different to what we usually do, but the final views were good," he said.
The triangular plot also required special modifications in the air-conditioning system to ensure healthy circulation.
"A normal room has four corners, but this has only three, which also meant that the walls were close to each other. For good air circulation to keep the temperature normal, we did a special study on air fluids and had additional supply points," Mr Rahman said.
"But in the end, the facade turned out to be better than we had imagined. That was because we had good consultation and coordination with the designers, architects and engineers," he said.
Construction of the building took a little less than two years.
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