The Cloud: a Playful Structure in the Sky of Dubai
Dubai is one of the few cities in the world that experiences a remarkable development and growth in all different aspects of life, specifically architecture. Dubai is always looking to achieve ever-changing and unprecedented architectural scenery that expresses the spirit of the age. Over the last few decades most of the renowned architectural practices were competing to realize their creative architectural production in Dubai, which welcomed all ideas capable of achieving their unlimited future expectations. In 2007, the International Design Forum was held in Dubai and presented an excellent platform to architects, artists, and urban planners to display their new and creative ideas to a wider audience from all over the world. The Design Forum also represented an opportunity for Dubai to join the serious global debate on design and creativity.
One of the new architectural ideas presented during the forum was the “Cloud”, designed by the Lebanese architect Nadim Karam of Atelier Hapsitus. Karam is specialized in creating conceptual designs for architectural and urban art projects. The design concept of the ‘Cloud’ is to create imaginative and illusionary forms that motivate the memories of the traditional architecture of Dubai through layers of shadow, wind and light. The main concept of the ‘Cloud’ is inspired from the nomads, who wander freely like the clouds in the sky. However, the ‘Cloud’ is a link between peoples’ dreams and their reality.
The Cloud comprises gardens, auditorium, sports platforms, lakes, tubular lift shafts, and spiral walkways intertwined with rotating bridges. The main idea of constructing the ‘Cloud’ is to divide it into two structural zones; one for the supporting slanted structural elements and the other for the cloud structure. The ‘Cloud’ is supposed to be 300 meter long, 100 meter wide and is suspended 300 meters away fro the ground level. The volumetric shape of the ‘Cloud’ is defined by platforms and an open lattice structure at several scales, which create a kind of static and dynamic structure.
Diagram showing the components of the ‘Cloud’
The platforms are situated at different levels and connected together by a network of escalators and walkways, which also create many external spaces. These spaces are intended to be integrated with the climatic condition of the region and controlled by number of passive and active environmental elements. However, architecturally and structurally, the open spaces and the flying interlaced supporting structure are intended to be elements of the sustainable climate control. Controlling the harsh climate of Dubai by considering a sustainable approach and low energy consumption would create a pleasant experience and comfortable environment to the users of the ‘Cloud’. There is no doubt that, ‘The Cloud is a trip, a playful adventure in the city. It is a horizontal presence on an elevated platform, an antithesis to the sum of sky-scrapers all over the Gulf region”. Nadim Karam
1. Al-Manakh: Dubai Guide, edited by Moutamarat for the Dubai Design Forum, 2007.
2. The author attended the Dubai Design Forum in 2007