Icon – Revisited

December 2008, Dubai, UAE – United Arab Emirates

Dubai is filled with landmarks. How to create an icon that represents Dubai?
Unfortunately, contemporary icons are usually corrupted by trends, framed in time, quickly consumed, unsustainable economically, and irrational.
In the land of the superlative to go for the tallest, the biggest, the most expensive, yet again … would not make sense.
We choose the sublime rather than the superlative.
And to deflect all the curses that icons have to face, we decide for the simple.
An icon that represents them all

I- The pure icon
As colours – black and white.
As form – the square.
As process – the extrusion.
As organization – the grid.

The seven towers will resist strongly the concepts of time, style, fashion, mode, type…
As if born out of the Theory of Forms by Plato, they possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality. The towers will symbolize all buildings of Dubai, all colours and all plans…
II- The endless icon
An icon cannot be framed. It cannot be limited in time or space. It is timeless because it will never be old-fashioned. It is endless because the water reflects the towers during the day, and during the night, the light will extend them up to the sky.

III- The narrative icon
The most significant fact of the history of Dubai is its phenomenal development and construction activity. This creates a drawing of Dubai. It is leaving its mark on the ground. We use these traces to create the patterns that will be engraved on the facades of the towers. Like a column of text, they will tell the history through the images.
We use urbanism as an ornament. As in the old temples and churches where they used figurative motives to inform the people, the seven towers will tell the history of Dubai through its urban footprints, as an architectonic tale.
We show in the façade what a pedestrian can never see, what is only visible from a plane or through earth viewer applications. Urban planning elevated to art.

IV- The sustainable icon
How to make a sustainable icon?
Icons often look outdated the moment they are created given the speed of trends in taste and fashion.
We present the design within an environmentally friendly strategy that generates more energy than it needs, and with an appearance that will not look old-fashioned ever. The seven Towers remain neutral between the past and the future, between day and night, between colour and black & white pictures, and between fashions and trends…The seven towers resist strongly the concepts of time, style, fashion, mode, type…
Each tower integrates a wind turbine that generates enough energy for its own lightening needs and services, and generates a surplus that will be transferred to the city. The electricity will be transported to the net and taken up during the night when the towers will light the sky.  The towers are orientated in a North-Southerly direction. We will integrate photovoltaic cells in the patterns of the facades. They will be placed proportionally to the best possible orientation.

V- The rational icon
The grid is made out of plants, water, trees, sand… The grid follows a North-Southerly direction. It is a delicate layer added to the park. It preserves all its existing elements and integrates them into the squares. This superposition reinforces the sinuosity of the park and the rationality of the grid. The visitors pass through an architectonic promenade of squares and towers experiencing the contrast of this skyline in a park.

– – –

Icon Revisited
Project name: Dubai Icon – ThyssenKrupp Elevator Architecture Award
Date: December 2008 – Results April 2009
Type: Open International Competition
Organizer: ThyssenKrupp
Participants: 926 (Registrations: 4.651 architects from 108 countries)
Location: Dubai, UAE – United Arab Emirates
Site: Za´abeel Park in the centre of the city
Programme: Landmark, Viewpoint, Visitors Centre, Restaurant, Library
Surface: 1600 m² (4 floors 20×20 m)
Status: Competition
Client: Dubai Municipality
Budget: N/A
STAR Team: Beatriz Ramo, Simone de Iacobis, Iñigo Paniego