x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

World island villas aim to float your boat

An architect and a yacht designer have combined talents to create a floating villa that will tether to The World islands.

The ‘Ome is a floating home, which is designed to be moved between Dubai’s coast and The World.
The ‘Ome is a floating home, which is designed to be moved between Dubai’s coast and The World.

They joke that their idea will "Save The World". But Graham Henderson, a Dubai-based architect, and Donald Starkey, a renowned yacht designer, are serious.

The pair plan to build floating homes that they envision will be tethered to The World, the archipelago of man-made islands in Dubai.

Two potential buyers have already made enquiries.

"It's not just a pie-in-the-sky scheme," Mr Starkey said of the project, called 'Ome. An 'Ome is a two-storey villa designed to berth in calm waters that measures 32 metres in diameter, with five bedrooms and a swimming pool.

The pair said that they created the 'Ome to address the difficulties involved with building on The World.

The haven of private islands, shaped like countries, was one of Dubai's best-known projects in 2008. It was also one of the first to stall when property prices began to tumble. In January, more than 70 per cent of the islands had been sold, but just a few developers were building.

"It's embarrassing to say: they're just piles of sand at the moment," Mr Starkey said.

Nakheel, The World's developer, is not involved with the 'Ome. A Nakheel spokesman, Mohammed Al Mansoori, said that the company had no comment.

Mr Henderson, who previously worked for Nakheel, said it would be much easier to build an 'Ome than to build a conventional house on The World.

"Instead of having to take all the materials to the island and build something - and bring temporary water and temporary people - we will build this in a boatyard," he said. A barge then tows out the home. Because the 'Ome does not have navigation equipment, the price will be 50 to 70 per cent that of a luxury yacht, which might sell for Dh75 million to Dh90m, the designers said. An 'Ome will take 22 months to build once commissioned.

"Some people think it's a pointless exercise, and we generally tell them it is," Mr Henderson said. "But that's the beauty of the whole thing too."