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Life & Style

Dubai architects envision design of 550-metre-tall ring encircling Burj Khalifa

  • Architecture firm Znera Space, which designed the concept, hopes it will challenge traditional ideas of gated communities and skyscraper homes
Published August 20, 2022
Photo: Instagram
Photo: Instagram

An architecture firm, Znera Space, has proposed a project that aims to transform the Dubai skyline, reported Gulf Today on Saturday.

The company released images of a planned project, the Downtown Circle – a 550-metre-tall ring – that will encircle Burj Khalifa.

The ambitious project has been drawn up by Najmus Chowdry and Nils Remess, co-founders of Znera Space, that explores experimental architecture, in particular focusing on exploring and addressing social boundaries and environmental issues, according to details reported by The National.

The duo hopes the design will challenge traditional ideas of gated communities and skyscraper homes. It is also intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.

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The illustrations show the scale of the structure, which is intended to encompass all of Downtown Dubai with a circumference of three kilometres.

Photo: Instagram
Photo: Instagram

It is designed to consist of smaller units, which will contain homes as well as public, commercial and cultural spaces.

Downtown Circle was created by the pair during the pandemic, which sparked the idea of rethinking how we live in cities, particularly in skyscrapers.

“We wanted to go down to the basics of how gated communities were established as a very horizontal built environment,” Chowdry was quoted as saying by The National.

“But you can’t have that here because of the dense urban fabric of Dubai. The best way to explore and practise this concept was in Downtown itself."

Remess added that the concept was of a vertical city.

“When Covid-19 hit hard, we thought a lot about suitability and how can we change things, and how we can create better urban planning," said Remess.

"We looked at aspects such as garbage disposal, food production, traffic problems, pollution. We put all these things together and came up with the concept.”

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Downtown Circle is made up of five levels and would be anchored by five pillars embedded into the ground. The massive span of the circle itself would be composed of two main rings held together by a green belt named the Skypark which vertically connects the floors with each other creating a continuous three-dimensional urban green eco-system.

“One of our targets was agriculture,” Remess said.

“Usually cities begin with agriculture and then continue with urbanisation. Today, many big cities are faced with the problem of how they can add more agriculture. This is one of the aspects we wanted to add into this concept - a self-sufficient city."

Acting as a sustaining core for the structure, Skypark would also include swamps, waterfalls, tropical vegetation and various floras. The plan would also be to have areas for rainwater harvesting, solar power and a system storing carbon and filtering pollutants from the air as part of the urban ecosystem.

An idea for a tram on the outer perimeter ring has also been proposed in the concept and drawings, which were created in collaboration with Poland-based visualisations studio Pictown.

In addition, twenty spacious pods travelling up to 100 kilometres per hour would transport passengers around the Downtown Circle while offering 360-degree views of the city.

The idea of a self-sustainable city within a city is similar to another futuristic project in the works - The Line megaproject in Neom, Saudi Arabia.

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However, Znera Space’s concept differs as it is integrated into the fabric of an existing city unlike The Line, which is planned to be built autonomously in the desert where space is abundant.

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While Chowdry and Remess are well versed in and have considered all aspects of urban living, from the social, economical and sustainable while creating Downtown Circle, the discussion about what is possible in architecture excites them equally as much.

“Our roles as architects is to come up with these ideas,” Chowdry said. “We want people to comment on it, criticise it, to see how we can think about building topographies.”

“It also raises the discussion of what we can do better,” added Remess. “The way we build cities, the way we plan things. There can be negativity around this type of discussion but also solutions in how we can change things for the better.”

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