Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Sheik Zayed Library, Dubai Seven in UAE by Cheungvogl
May 22nd, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Metaphorically, the structural design is rooted deeply into the ancient culture of Dubai. Respecting traditional disciplines and incorporating the significance of organic forms, symbols and patterns, the design seeks to redefine traditions as well as continues to test new boundaries for the future. As we critically question the ‘whys’ and ‘how’s’, finding the reasons for everything, there is no room for imitations. This symbol must be a unique phenomenon – a flower growing out of the desert ground. Following the rational thinking of looking deeper into nature and plant structure such as bamboo, we understand that the structure is made up of multiple strands of fibre, tightly knitted together.
The cross-section of the bamboo fibre and bamboo yarn is filled with various micro-gaps and micro-holes. Scientific tests have proven that higher shear strength was observed for bundles of fiber having smaller diameter rather than larger ones. Similarly, we have applied a thin layer of secondary structural mesh to ‘glue’ the primary structure together. Here, the secondary structure – the skin of the facade acts as bracing to the primary structure. The primary structure remains as filigree of thin elements. They become a series of load transporters, working together to transfer the loads down into the roots – the foundation.
The circular plan renders equality in many perspectives. Equal views and equal loads. Wind and seismic load is also reduced in a circular form compared to a square or triangular form. A light mesh consists of primary and secondary steel members wrapping around the 7.7m diameter concrete core, supporting the huge cantilever slabs forming three levels of viewing platforms. On the top two levels, the structural mesh defines the space for the viewing platforms without entirely enclosing it. These spaces provide the visitors with 360 degree panoramic views of Dubai at 165 meter datum.
The city has presented the world a collage of amalgamated large-scale developments in innovative forms. Dubai has vigorously convinced the world of how built forms are used to convey technological power and growth. Today, the challenge for Dubai is to balance the rapid development to a more considered and grounded city able to sustain its quality through time. The fashionable, creative and exciting aspects of Dubai bring about a kind of dramatic growth that yearns for a moment of calmness. A pause. Gazing upon the functional and the practical. Here we question the basic principles – the fundamentals of what people need.
The project embraces diversity and we understand that ‘needs’ do change. Therefore, flexibility is key to everything, to cope with endless evolving conditions. A successful city seeks to provide a built environment within which people can develop, network, consolidate and compete on the global platform. We span between the macro down to the micro – to understand and embrace differences. The project focuses on the need to provide a ‘place’ in the city of Dubai for people to pause and reflect. A place to contemplate. Spiritual. Tactile. A place in between things. A place where the soul is conditioned, the mind is charged. A blurry quiet slow space Is our definition of ‘quality’. Outside in 70000m Locating at the peripheral of the city’s urban corridor, Sheik Zayed Road, the site captures the entire view of the city quietly from a distance.
The structure will stand in between many internationally recognizable forms that celebrate the commercial success of Dubai city. A seamless integration of the structure in between the already dynamic urban corridor requires a bold and yet simple gesture. The understanding of time – between ‘then’ and ‘now’ becomes the framework for the design. The desire to capture time in memory and space. 700m Enhanced by a structure that has a distinguished identity and a sense of place. One of the major challenges of this project is to examine and generate new urban structure that is sustainable and sensible to those who inhabit these grounds. It is critical to recognize the existing urban spaces and render the site with a bold and simple gesture that is unique, resilient and supportive of local needs.
The connection between the city and the existing park infrastructure has been seamlessly integrated. The new grounds for the structure is distinguished by a field of bamboo trees with solar lamps within the landscape. 70m The seamless connection between the structure and its landscape gradually allows one to descend down into the building quietly and spiritually. The ground is a place that is slightly submerged into the ground, sheltered from the sound of the city, the sandy wind and the sun. It creates a place that is naturally cooled by a thin layer of water beneath the structure. The light web hovers against the edges of the site, supporting facilities such as children library and conferences, providing a sustainable environment that sustains different climatic conditions. The design of an organic plan is responsive to the evolving needs of its people. A place for interaction. A place for cultural exchanges. A place for quiet thoughts.
A place for documenting the notion of time. 7.7m The core is based on a 7.7m diameter structure that composes two passenger lifts with a feature helical stairs and a fire escape stairs intertwined around it. The two set of stairs are designed to be stacked on top of each other to maximize the core’s efficiency, yielding 7.7m floor to floor height. The design of the core is consistent throughout the building with minor adjustments to cater to different requirements of each platform. Inside out The circular plan is an ancient and universal symbol of unity, wholeness and infinity. It represents the power of endlessness, eternity. Forever here. The structure becomes the framework that supports different experiential qualities.
The structure expands and tightens fluidly and subtly at various datum, allowing one to document the city from different angles. Platforms at various levels will also allow one to document the changing of time. Platform 0.00m DTM Entrance sits proudly on a sheet of reflecting water. One is to descend slowly through the thin cuts that mark the entrances at ground level. The entry approach is one that signifies an inverted dome. It houses spiritual qualities and quiet thoughts. Platform 11.55 DTM This platform provides an enlarged contemplative place for one to get closest to the framework, the tactile quality of the structure is a part of the experiential quality within the space.
The blur between the structure and the metal mesh provides a magical translucent quality that changes according the different times of the day. Symbolically, the structure is clothed with a white shawl, providing a light shade from the sun. Within this space, 140m of the structure is revealed. The play between body and space is heightened by the crisscrossing between the curved structural members and the bracing of the metal mesh. Platform 150.52 DTM As one ascends upon the upper levels, the oval platform allows one to look back upon time. Viewing through the cuts on the floor slabs to get glimpses of the city from oblique angles will evoke other senses of the body. Platform 157.85 DTM This platform is expanded into three levels similar to a stretchable spring.
It is a fluid gesture that describes the experience of travelling through space and time. The first stop allows one to pause and rest at the cafe. Adjacent to it, is the lower portion of the viewing platform where a series of circular ramps surround the edges of the facades. The view out is always protected by shades, either by the shape of the building or the fine metal mesh on the outer skin. Platform 165.50 DTM At roof level, the relationship between the mind, body, space and city is all amalgamated. A journey that is flexible enough to cater changes through time. The sum of all these parts has provided places for thoughts and senses to wander freely.