We noticed you're blocking ads.

Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blocker.

Questions about why you are seeing this? Contact us

Font Size

- Aa +

Wed 10 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

Font Size

- Aa +

Making a statement

With a name as bold as The Address, the design of Dubai's newest hotel had to be nothing short of exceptional. Michele Howe checks out the exterior.

With a name as bold as The Address, the design of Dubai's newest hotel had to be nothing short of exceptional. Michele Howe checks out the exterior.

It was a throwaway comment at the end of the conversation but one that would turn out to be the key to understanding the vision behind the design of the exterior space of Dubai's newest hotel.

"The interesting thing about the exterior," said Cora de Conceicao-Stuart, hotel manager at The Address, which opened at the start of October, "is that even though it is surrounded by a construction site, you are not aware of the construction because you forget your surroundings."

The pool element was essential. The space wasn’t huge, but I think what we have achieved is unique.

Located on the doorstep of the Burj Dubai and adjacent to the newly opened Dubai mall, The Address is the latest luxury hotel to open its doors, and a major step by property developer Emaar into the hospitality arena.

The Downtown Burj Dubai location is the first in a series of hotels the developer has planned for the emirate.

The design of the main exterior, which leads out from the lobby of the 63-storey location, makes full use of the space. Stretching the length of the hotel, it includes a range of different spaces and various attractions such as sculptures and water features.

The unique selling point of the exterior, however, is the pool. Measuring 105 metres long, the pool lines the length of the exterior space culminating in a horizon edge with a view of the Burj Dubai.

"The pool element was essential," says Justin Meek, director landscape architecture of Shankland Cox, which provided the landscape and water feature design services from concept to detailed design for the external space.

We tried a lot of options. One thing we were struck by was that with such a high tower, the views down on it are really a big element from the decks or the apartments so we wanted to make it very sculptural and iconic and to get away from what you call typical pools in hotels.The space wasn't huge, but I think what we have achieved is very unique. It's not your typical resort freeform pool and it's not your minimalist square box.

The pool has four components: the area referred to as ‘the source' at the start of the pool, a children's pool, a family pool, and an adult pool.

The separate pools are designed at various heights so that they cascade into one another.

The idea for the pool came about as the result of brainstorming between Shankland Cox, Atkins and Mirage Mille, the project management company, says Dick van Straaten, director development. There were two main ideas influencing the concept, he says.

"If you look at the building it is inspired by art deco. We looked at how taking that slant we could conceptualise the pool and the pool deck area in a way that stays true to the concept. That was one school of thought. The other was the nautilus shell, which was a source of inspiration for the entire hotel. If you look at the pool from top down, the swimming pool starts almost in the shape of a wave going from very thin to quite broad."

The nautilus sea shell is a recurrent theme for the design concept of the hotel, first appearing in a sculpture in the outside lobby area and influencing the design of the interior.

A key direction from the client was for the blurring of the interior and exterior space, says Meek. "There was a clear direction to blur the internal/external lines, and this was achieved by outdoor seating areas, view lines and materials.

The interiors are very textured, sculptural and rich, in a very refined way, and we aimed to emulate that feel externally," he says. Materials used in the interior lobby space, for example, are taken through to the corresponding exterior area.

There are also three or four areas where the outdoor seating backs onto the building and the doors can open turning the interior-exterior space into one.The concept for the exterior also had to complement the building. In achieving this, the landscape design team made close study of the architecture, which is described as being very organic and curvilinear.

"We started exploring a lot of ideas, initially around the building form, that in plan is very sculptural, curving and stepping up," says Meek.

"The imagery we were using was very organic, almost shell like. Part of the concept was developing an arrival sequence of water features and landscape that visually carries through the design and binds the external spaces together." He cites the ‘source fountain', as an example of this, in being both visible from the lobby and the start of the swimming pool.

Close collaboration between all design parties was essential to fulfilling the clients' requirements in this respect, says Meek.

"As we moved through the detailing of the design we workshopped with other disciplines so the design moved on with team in put. The interior designers Wilson Associates had an influence as the interior/exterior relationship was paramount," he says.

In anticipation of the projected rise in visitors to the UAE, the luxury hotel market is exploding at present. The opening of The Address comes just months after The Westin opened in Dubai Marina.

Backed by Emaar and in a prime location, The Address has a better chance than most of becoming a must-stay destination, but in a competitive market it still has to pull out all the stops to be certain of success.

Finish is everything in a luxury location, and in this respect the level of finish on the project was crucial, says Meek.

"The nature of the project was such that extremely high levels of finish and detailing were required to achieve the desired outcome. This was not a project of typical details and off-the-shelf solutions. We put a huge amount of effort in during the construction to achieve the results required by the design and expected by the client and project manager and I believe the finished design illustrates that."Often on a design project, multiple changes along the way mean that the end result differs greatly to the original intention, particularly on the landscape which coming at the end of the budget is often where cuts are made. This wasn't the case on The Address, however, says Meek.

In fact, the end result is extremely close to the original vision, he says, commenting that if you compare the masterplan to an aerial shot of the exterior, there are very few deviations.

Despite the noise of construction work that is still ongoing in the area, the hotel has, according to De Conceicao-Stuart, been a big hit with visitors.

And while it is often the building and interior design which garners the most attention, it is the exterior space which can have a strong influence on a visitor's impression of a hotel, she states.

 "I think in today's requirements, and in response to what our customer wants, [the exterior] plays a very big part [in terms of a hotel's success]," she says. "In cities, people want to go outside, to be able to do something outside of the building and I think this hotel answers it, because it draws you out."

Project details

Client:Emaar Hospitality Group

Development management and project management:Mirage Mille Leisure & Development

Landscape and water feature design:Shankland Cox

Pool design:Shankland Cox

Architect:WS Atkins

Interior design:Wilson Associates International

Lighting design consultant:Neolight

Sculpture design:Stephen Berlino

Main contractor:Arabtec Besix Joint Venture

Landscaping and hardscaping sub-contractor:Cypark

Pool contractor:Belhasa

FFE suppliers:Kayukaya, Casual Life, Coast New Zealand, IDS

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

For all the latest construction news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Real news, real analysis and real insight have real value – especially at a time like this. Unlimited access ArabianBusiness.com can be unlocked for as little as $4.75 per month. Click here for more details.