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Tue 23 Jul 2019 09:52 AM

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Where are they now? Abu Dhabi's Bionic Tower

The designers proposed a building with a futuristic exterior which could adjust to the changing environment

Where are they now? Abu Dhabi's Bionic Tower
Abu Dhabi’s Bionic Tower, which was proposed as a new addition to the city's skyline in 2007

As part of our ongoing summer series, we will be looking back at some of the most colourful and extraordinary proposals pitched in the UAE and the wider Gulf and investigating what happened to them.

In the last few days, we looked at plans for an underwater tennis stadium pitched by a Polish architect, Hollywood actor Brad Pitt’s ideas for a series of environmentally-friendly projects, a Swedish firm’s designs for a moving statue, a Chinese team’s ambitions for a neighbourhood in the shape of a globe, a Hong Kong designer’s ambitions for a water park containing the world’s highest water slide, a former president of the Russian republic of Kalmykia’s dream of a city with towers shaped like a chessboard and yesterday we looked at plans for an underwater TV studio for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Today, we are looking at Abu Dhabi’s Bionic Tower.

The tower project was pitched by German firm LAVA Architects in 2007 and was described as “a fully integrated intelligent façade that responds to its surrounding environment to create maximum energy efficiency and user comfort”.

Basically, it was proposed that the outside of the tower would use a futuristic material and design which would adjust to the changing temperatures, in the same way the human skin adjusts to its surroundings.

“Just as nature organically regenerates, so the building proposes a natural system of organic restructuring and reorganisation,” the design brief said, without giving too many specifics.

“No building skin today approaches the performance of the biological world. The traditional curtain wall facade is passive, lacking the ability to adjust to the fluctuating external environment. The tower’s systems and skin depart from this tradition and are controlled and responsive to external influences like air pressure, temperature, humidity, air pollution and solar radiation,” the brief added.

Originally proposed in 2007 as a futuristic addition to the Abu Dhabi skyline, the project hit stumbling blocks early on with the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008/2009. 

A spokesperson for LAVA’s offices in Australia told Arabian Business recently that “basically the project was stalled” and it was unlikely the plans would be revived.

Coming up tomorrow: The Crystal Ball Museum

Check out the other projects in the series:

Dubai’s underwater tennis stadium

Brad Pitt's eco-friendly Dubai projects

Dubai's moving statue

Dubai Technosphere 

Dubai Heart Water Park Resort

Dubai's International Chess City

Underwater World Cup TV studio (below)

Are there any projects from the past you would like Arabian Business to investigate? Contact us with your suggestions at

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