Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Crazy Architecture in Dubai

When I was a kid I read as much science fiction as I could get my hands on by authors such as Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clark, Andre Norton, etc.  At the same time, real life magazines like Popular Science, which I consumed like candy, promised a future filled with flying cars, personal robots,  and fantastic architecture.
Magazines like Popular Science were big on modern
architecture and the inventions that went with it.
The covers of pulp science fiction often featured
architectural extravaganzas in futuristic mode.
I also devoured sic-fi movies like The Day the Earth Stood Still and Forbidden Planet (the best movie ever made).  It didn't help that my fourth grade teacher, Mr. Karp, predicted all sorts of inventions that would come about by the time I grew up. Specifically, he said it was all but certain a transporter machine the size of a telephone booth would whisk human beings from one place to another in the same manner a conversation traveled through phone wires.  I am still waiting for this invention to materialize.
Sci-fi movies then and now featured futuristic design. A set from Forbidden Planet, above. 
In other respects, it seems that the science fiction of yesterday is the reality of today.  I marvel that we actually seem to be living in the world of tomorrow. Hand-held computers, personal robots (I have a Rumba that cleans my floors every day), and other stuff of the future is here now.  Even our architecture resembles the cover of a science fiction novel from 1955. Not everywhere, but in many places.  Especially in Dubai with the Burj Kalifa tower, the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel, and the Palm Islands. Now an upcoming project in Dubai continues the science fiction esthetic: Aladdin City. It's a little bit crazy and a lot of fun. The total cost of the project has not been announced. It will have air-conditioned bridges with a moving floor to connect the structures.  The highest of three towers is thirty-four stories.
The three towers of Aladdin City, Dubai. 
Aerial view of Aladdin City. 
A YouTube video about the project can be found here: Aladdin City.  The project will include offices and a hotel. So, you'll have a place to stay if you want to travel to the future.


  1. It looks like a string of Aladdin's lamps across the water -- maybe that was the point. It's fun and it's weird, but is it good architecture? Exercising my official position as Assistant DA (Devils' Advocate), I guess I could agree that if our built environment was fun and weird, it would be an improvement over dull and boring, but looking at it critically as architecture, is it really an improvement? I argue that point with friends who admire any building that is "different", and ask them: different, yes, and that's refreshing, but is is it contributing to a better-designed world? Admittedly, I don't have an answer.

    But on another subject: I'm very glad to see that you're blogging more of late.


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  3. Responding to G. Walke's comment:

    I don't know if any of this sci-fi architecture is any good as High Architecture. It's just a wonder to me that all of the futuristic predictions are becoming reality. (Well, not all of them, but many.) Is it happening because we imagined it and wished for it once upon a time? Did our imagined Future create the Now? If that's the case, we ought be very careful what we wish for.

    I think we wished, back in the sixties, that our cities would be less crime ridden and more like the urban glamour we saw in old movies. Now that future is coming true as well. Because we imagined it and yearned for it. Now we have downtown culture with night clubs, coffee shops, lofts, public transit... all over the country. That's a marvel to me.

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