Tom Wright is the architect and designer of the Burj al Arab in Dubai, UAE.
The Burj Al Arab (Tower of the Arabs) was conceived in October 1993 and completed on site in 1999. The lower left image shows Tom Wright′s first drawing of the Burj al Arab concept that was shown to the client in October 1993 which along with the simple card model shown above convinced the client that the tower should be built. The felt pen illustration to the left was an early development sketch of the hotel drawn by Wright on a paper serviette whilst he sat on the terrace of the Chicago Beach hotel which stood adjacent to the site of the Burj al Arab.
The brief to the architect was to create an icon for Dubai, a building that would become synonymous with the place, as Sydney has its opera house and Paris the Eiffel Tower so Dubai was to have the Burj al Arab. On the links page the Atkins Press pack can be downloaded which contains further information on the Burj al Arab.
Tom Wright lived in Dubai during the design and construction of the project working as the project Design Director for Atkins one of the world′s leading multi discipline design consultancies.
Dubai is the prosperous star of the United Arab Emirates. It is hailed as one of the fastest growing cities in the world and is home to a culturally diverse, dynamic community. Historically, the city evolved around Dubai Creek and it continues to expand ever outwards with groundbreaking new developments. It is one of the world’s top holiday destinations due to the perennial sunshine, a combination of world-class leisure facilities, first-class hotels and the dramatic shoreline, where white sands meet the Arabian Gulf.
The icon of Dubai, Burj Al Arab rises out of its own man-made island 280 metres from the Jumeirah coast, 15km south of the city and 25km from Dubai International Airport. Visible from almost everywhere in the city, it is linked to the shore by a slender, gently curving causeway.
In 1993, architect Tom Wright of WS Atkins took on the challenge of creating this groundbreaking superstructure. From the very beginning Burj Al Arab was planned and designed to become the icon of Dubai. It was to be extravagant and luxurious, a reflection of its Arabic heritage and traditions of hospitality, a beacon to light the city’s future.
Construction began in 1994 and involved 3000 companies and contractors; 250 designers from the UK, USA and Dubai; and 3500 workmen on site at any given time. It took two years to reclaim the island in the shore waters of the Arabian Gulf, and a further three years to erect the magnificent landmark. Burj Al Arab’s doors officially opened on 1 December 1999.
Structure and Exterior Design
At 321 metres above sea level, Burj Al Arab is the tallest all-suite hotel in the world. It stands proud as one of the tallest buildings in the world and the tallest single structure on a man-made island, taller than the Eiffel Tower and a mere 60 metres shorter than the Empire State Building.
Designed in the shape of a billowing Arabian dhow sail, Burj Al Arab represents a significant tribute to the nation’s seafaring heritage. Burj Al Arab continues the nautical theme established by its sister hotel, Jumeirah Beach Hotel and the Wild Wadi Water park.
The sail was a considerable technical challenge, featuring a double-skinned, Teflon-coated woven glass fibre screen across its ribbed belly. It is the first time such technology has been used vertically in such form and extent in any building worldwide. It is dazzling white by day and transformed to display a spectrum of colour at night, vibrant and alive against the skyline.
Located 212 metres above the sea level, the helipad provides an opportunity to arrive or depart from Burj Al Arab by helicopter and admire the city from a different perspective.
An incredible 70,000 cubic metres of concrete and more than 9,000 tons of steel were employed in the construction of the tower.
Burj Al Arab stands on a man-made island 280 metres offshore, connected to the mainland by a slender, gently curving causeway. The building is supported by 250 columns that go 45 metres under the sea and is held in place by the friction of the sand.
The Ellipse Fountain
20,000 litres of water, combined with bursts of fire, are orchestrated into the most unique and dramatic visual symphony at the entrance of the iconic hotel. This taming of the elements has never been achieved anywhere else in the world and was developed by Wet Design.
Each of the four towers located in front of the hotel, propels fireballs into the air, created by releasing a controlled amount of non-toxic propane gas. The result is a spectacular optical illusion, with the flames reflecting in the hotel’s glass exterior.
Khuan Chew, of KCA International, drew the inspiration for the interiors from the land, its people and culture. Once a desert with nomadic people, it has been transformed into an emblem of new prosperity. Burj Al Arab is a symbol of this change, designed in impressive palatial proportions.
A robust and vibrant colour palette was derived from the elements; earth, air, fire, water. The layout incorporated ancient and revered traditions of hospitality, particular to Arabic nations.
Situated between the escalators leading to Sahn Eddar, this waterfall combines finely atomised water with fibre optics to produce a unique kaleidoscope effect. As water and fog flow downward through its glass, stone-filled steps, water arches elegantly in choreographed movement.
There are three aquariums in Burj Al Arab hotel, two situated on each side of the main hotel lobby and the circular tank in Al Mahara restaurant, with approximately 50 species of fish kept in the tanks.
The world’s tallest atrium is over 180 metres in height. It is abundant in warm, natural light, flanked by golden columns, with a beautiful central fountain where water arches dance in sudden bursts over 42 metres into the air.
There are over 28,000 light fixtures in Burj Al Arab.
Materials The finest and most exclusive materials were sourced for finishing the interiors of Burj Al Arab. Amongst the fine items brought in to create the magical interiors were custom-made carpets and rugs from South Africa and India; marble from Brazil and Italy; wooden doors from Dubai and chandeliers from the UK.
The rarest Statutario marble was used in walls and flooring. This is the same marble that was used by Michelangelo when creating his masterpiece sculptures. Over 30 different types were used throughout the entire hotel, covering nearly 24,000 square metres: 10,000 square metres of smooth marble flooring in suites and lift lobbies and 13,000 square metres in public areas.
Approximately 1,790 square metres of 24-carat gold leaf was used to embellish the interior.
43,446 square metres was used to embellish the interior.
Tom Wright is the architect and designer of the Burj al Arab in Dubai, UAE.The Burj Al Arab (Tower of the Arabs) was conceived in October 1993 and completed on site in 1999. The lower left image shows Tom Wright′s first drawing of the Burj al Arab concept that was shown to the client in October 1993 which along with the simple card model shown above convinced the client that the tower should be built. The felt pen illustration to the left was an early development sketch of the hotel drawn...
- Year 1999
- Work finished in 1999
- Status Completed works
- Type Hotel/Resorts / Tourist Facilities