Dubai Architecture: A Breakthrough Into The Future

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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A few decades ago, Dubai was a desert and a small fishing village. At the moment, the architecture of this city is breathtaking, as if it is part of the distant future. In this city, all architectural structures are defined by the word ” the most”: the most luxurious, the most expensive, and the highest. The structures built so far plunge us into a completely different dimension. In the future, the construction of even more grandiose buildings is planned.

1) Complex Atlantis Resort

Complex Atlantis Resort

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One of the wonders of the world, an artificial island, was built in the gulf flowing in this beautiful emirate. On this island, it was decided to build a giant recreation complex similar to a separate city.

The hotel became the highlight of this project. In this building, the architects laid oriental motives: arches, towers, and spires. The structure looks like the Jasmine Palace from one of the most famous fairy tales, “A Thousand and One Nights”, brought to life.

The hotel’s ceremonial premises also respect the traditions of Arab culture. Here, frescoes were created on the walls depicting the Atlanteans – mythological creatures. The design of the aquariums located within the complex is reminiscent of the ruins of the Arabian Peninsula.

The hotel rooms are also decorated in Arabic style. Each of the more than 1000 rooms is decorated with aquariums with living ocean inhabitants, as well as rooms decorated in a marine theme. Each guest of this complex will have the opportunity to go to the loggia, which offers an amazing view of the Arab Gulf and Dubai.

The lucky ones who have settled in VIP rooms will have the opportunity to live under the water and observe the underwater life of the inhabitants. Lying on your bed and looking through the panoramic windows, you can find solitude with the underwater world and feel like a part of it.

The interior of the hotel is up to par. Every detail fully conveys the entire atmosphere of Arab culture: silk curtains, gilded frames of mirrors and paintings, as well as furniture made from natural materials. The cost of construction was reported to be US$1.5 bn.

2) Burj Al Arab

Burj Al Arab

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Another Dubai treasure built on an artificial island is the Burj Al Arab. The hotel is removed from the coast. You need to overcome 300 meters to get there.

The architecture of this structure is striking as it is made in the form of a sail. The sail is made of a special material that reflects the sunlight, and because of this, it seems as if the color of this building is snow-white.

In the evening, the sail is used as a screen on which tourists and guests of the emirate can watch exciting videos.

Many hotel guests claim that standard criteria cannot judge this complex. It needs to be assigned a special status. As its outer part is executed perfectly, so is the inner one. The interior decoration is made of the most expensive materials. Luxury outdoor furniture in Dubai allows guests to enjoy spectacular views from the property’s top floor.

3) The Opus

The Opus

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This incredible structure was designed by the world-famous architect Zaha Hadid. The skilled craftsman has created an icon of the architectural style.

This extraordinary building has a shopping and office complex and a luxury hotel.

The building has the shape of a cube and consists of individual towers, which are connected by covered walkways. Inside them, you can freely move around the entire complex.

The part that hits your vision is the space in the center of this building. The architect’s decision was due to the desire to fill this structure with the maximum amount of natural light.

The interior of the building has also been designed for durable use. Downstairs there are retail outlets, and the upper part is given over to private apartments and hotel rooms. Since this building is also private property, the designers thought through every moment and used technologies that minimize noise as much as possible.

4) Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

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Known to be the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa is nothing short of astounding. The building stands tall in almost all aspects, including height. Apart from being the world’s tallest freestanding structure, the structure has some of the priciest rooms one can book, with the royal suites ranging over $8,000 per night.

Burj Khalifa is known for its observation deck, which is the highest in the world, with a staggering height of 555 meters. To put the height into perspective, the tower is more than twice the height of the Empire State Building.

Burj Khalifa boasts among its height the most number of stories in the world, the highest occupied floor, and elevators with the longest travel distance in the world. Burj Khalifa is one of the most impressive feats Dubai will ever see.

5) Gevora Hotel

Gevora Hotel

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Gevora, in its entirety, is the tallest hotel in the world. The hotel has more than 500 rooms with the best views in Dubai. Being one of the tallest buildings in Dubai, Gevora stands firm right next to the giants in Dubai, including the Trade Center and the Financial Center.

Dubai has the best views of both the surrounding desert environment, the beaches, and the towering built environment. Gevora takes advantage of this marvel by locating their restaurant on the top floor, with glass windows to give the breathtaking views of the well-deserved justice.

To give a better experience, Gevora has a pool with a view over the city, giving the most luxurious hotel vibe you can get anywhere.

6) The Museum of the Future

The Museum of the Future

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The Museum of the Future is a statement, both literally and figuratively. The building is one of the most experimental and notable structures in Dubai. The museum is made in the shape of an eye to represent future vision and knowledge.

The steel frame exterior wrapped around the structure is made of over 1000 pieces and is carved to spell out words that say, “We won’t live for hundreds of years, but we can create something that will last for hundreds of years.”

The interior of the museum is not any less impressive and is well-designed to host an immersive experience. The interior has architectural wonders going on with twists and turns that seem to defy the laws of physics. When it is sunny outside, light sneaks through the artistic calligraphy to illuminate the interior of the museum.

The interior of the museum is minimal yet intricate, with Arabic taste mixed with modern architecture. Some topics and themes are well represented in art forms that give an out-of-the-world experience.

7) Cayan Tower

Cayan Tower

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Nothing will make your head twist more than looking up at the Cayan Tower, whose architecture is breathtaking with its twists and turns that seem impossible. Formally known as the “Infinity Tower”, the Cayan Tower twists to maximize the occupants’ views near the Palm Jumeirah and the marina below.

The Cayan Tower has close to 600 residential sectors and is one of the most high-end luxury apartments in the world. With 110,000 square meters of floor space, Cayan is a giant Dubai.

Architecturally, the Cayan is no mean feat. The building is the world’s tallest twisting tower, and it will be for the foreseeable future. The building takes modern architecture to its limits and stands out in the Dubai skyline.

8) The Green Planet

The Green Planet

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Dubai architecture is perhaps the most creative and experimental in the world, and the Green Planet clearly represents that fact. The building is an indoor rainforest that is enchanting. There are live animals and animals with over 3000 species sharing life within the magnificent structure.

The Green Planet has reptiles, fish, and birds; if you thought that was impressive, wait until you see the architectural genius behind the structure.

The building is molded around a gigantic tree at the center, with other large trees and forests surrounding it. There are elevated walkways that visitors can use to explore the space. The exterior of the building is minimal, and you would not have the slightest idea of the explosion of life happening within it.

The Green Planet was made to support the life within it without depending too much on the outside environment, mimicking the Earth. The building is a true reflection of how deep architecture goes beyond just mere buildings.

9) Five Palm Jumeirah Beach Hotel

Five Palm Jumeirah Beach Hotel

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The Five Palm Jumeirah beach hotel is synonymous with the word luxury. The hotel is an architectural marvel and one of the world’s top engineering projects. The hotel is built on reclaimed land, which makes it a sensational project.

The island is made in the form of a palm tree, hence the name. The hotel projects into the ocean, which gives it an endless amount of beach-line that visitors can enjoy. The enormous amounts of sand on the reclaimed land support the massive Jumeirah beach hotel structure, one of the many luxurious hotels on the island.

With close to 500 rooms, the hotel building is well thought out and has one of the most intricate designs on the island. One can get either ocean or city views while on the island, which is an experience of a lifetime.

10) Dubai Frame

Dubai Frame

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Just like the Museum of the Future, the Dubai Frame is a marvelous piece that stands out from the rest in Dubai. Inspired by the golden ratio, the Dubai Frame is nothing short of perfect. Additionally, the structure is plated in gold just to drive the point home. The frame shimmers against the sun, making it difficult to miss.

The Dubai Frame has an observatory 48 floors high, and the elevators take only 75 seconds to get you there. With a height of 150 meters and a wingspan of over 90 meters, the structure is great to behold. The over 2000 tonnes of material on the structure is supported by a design that few would believe possible. And yet, it holds steady.

Inside the Dubai Frame is a tunnel that acts like a time machine taking you to the future of Dubai, with an illusion of what it should look like in 2050. The tunnel not only shows you the future but the past too.

The Dubai Frame is made for experiences, and it has a skywalk with a see-through floor to get your adrenaline rushing. The building further has a restaurant to give you much-needed nourishment after touring the large, superb work of art.

11) Al Fahidi Fort

Al Fahidi Fort

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Built in the 16th century, the Al Fahidi Fort was the seat of the ruler of Dubai. The museum is one of the oldest structures in Dubai, proving its architectural integrity. The fort has worked as a weapon storage facility, prison, and palace; through it all, it has stood the test of time.

Today, the museum stands to represent the beginnings of Dubai and as a symbol that architecture in Dubai did not start in the 20th century.

12) Dubai Opera

Dubai Opera

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Dubai Opera is a performing arts center with a 2000 seating capacity. The opera manages to achieve the standards of a proper auditorium while maintaining a spectacular design.

The opera’s architectural design inspires from sailing dhows made of wood. The Dubai Opera is located in downtown Dubai, which is known as the world’s most prestigious square kilometer. The location of the opera is strategic as it provides value to the space around it.

13) Dubai Mall

The Dubai Mall

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Right across from the Dubai Opera is the Dubai Mall, which also belongs to the world’s most prestigious square kilometer. The mall is the largest in the world, with over a million square meters of floor space. The mall has over 1200 stores with over 200 international dining experiences.

The mall has an aquarium, fountains, decorations, and endless things to see. The mall is one of the most visited spots in Dubai. The mall has views from the outside, located right next to the most luxurious spots in Dubai, including the Burj Khalifa.

14) Jumeirah Emirates Tower

Jumeirah Emirates Tower

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The Jumeirah Emirates Tower is one of the most notable structures in Dubai. The two towers are easy to identify in the Dubai skyline silhouette. The building is one of the best architectural wonders in Dubai, starting right from the front lobby, which is sky-lit with high ceilings.

The Jumeirah Emirates Towers are strategically clad in copper and silver so that a viewer has different viewing experiences at different points. The hotel is one of the largest in the world and boasts a rich location. To be the most identifiable structure in a city skyline is one of the things many architects dream of achieving.

15) 0-14 Base

0-14 Base

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If you thought the name of this structure is unique, then you haven’t seen the design yet. The 0-14 base is one structure that is in the same league as the Green Planet or the Dubai Frame. Located in the Business Bay in Dubai, the 0-14 base is one of the most exciting structures to look at. The building might not be the tallest, but it proves that it does not need the height to stand out.

The exoskeleton of the 0-14 Base is made of an outer layer with over 1300 holes on it. There is a space between the facade and the windows channels cool air into the building, making it sustainable in the hot Dubai weather. The 0-14 Base exoskeleton is curvy and channels the wind away from the building while looking pretty.

16) Princess Tower

Princess Tower

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With over 760 residential units, the Princess Tower is an iconic structure in Dubai. The tower has over 100 stories, and its magnitude is impressive as it achieves what most structures can not. At almost half a kilometer high, the Princess Tower is the world’s tallest residential building and is the third tallest building in Dubai.

The tower’s occupants can enjoy the views of Dubai from the private lounge on the 97th floor, which has a 360-degree view. Originally meant to be 90 stories, the extra 11 stories were created to maximize profits.

17) JW Marriott Marquis Dubai

JW Marriott Marquis Dubai

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The JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is the tallest hotel building in the world and is shaped like the trunk of a date palm tree. The genius design has 247 mirrors on it to signify the 24hr 7, days, week service the hotel offers. The JW Marriott Marquis has become a landmark in the Dubai night skyline with its diamond-shaped light system at the top.

With over 800 bedrooms, the Marriott gives the other hotels a run for their money, and successfully so. The building has 14 elevators, each traveling at 6 meters per second, among other features that stand out when experiencing the Marriott.

18) Rose Rayhaan by Rotana

Rose Rayhaan by Rotana

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Located just three minutes from the Dubai International Financial Center, the Rose is one building you will see as long as you look in its direction. The building is not only tall but has a bluish finish that clads the 72-story hotel. The glasses are silver-mirrored with gold ornamentation, making the building highly stylized.

Rose Rayhaan by Rotana has intersecting “petals” at the top to manifest the “rose” like structure.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dubai Architecture

i. What style of architecture is in Dubai?

Dubai has a mix of modern architecture, as seen in buildings like the Dubai world trade centre, and Islamic architecture in the details on most of the buildings. Dubai’s rulers insist on having inspiration for architectural projects come from Dubai and its environs. Dubai is the perfect blend of traditional and modern architecture.

ii. What are the elements of traditional architecture in Dubai?

Traditional architecture in Dubai has found its way into the modern world in creative ways. For instance, culture plays a major role in the designing of buildings, and architects take inspiration from the culture in Dubai. An example would be the Burj al Arab which is in the form of a dhow.

Most structures in Dubai use locally sourced building materials that have been in use for hundreds of years. Being a global business hub, Dubai has seen rapid growth and may have outgrown traditional designs. However, architects have found creative ways to incorporate traditional design in buildings. For instance, the Museum of the Future has a lot of local influence on its design.

iii. What is the biggest architectural structure in Dubai?

There are a lot of massive structures in Dubai, and they all have different feats to them. For instance, the Burj Khalifa is by far the tallest structure in Dubai, while the Dubai Mall has a large footprint.

iv. How do they build skyscrapers on the sand in Dubai?

Civil engineers go to great lengths to sink deep and heavy foundations into the sand to make a tall building such as the Burj Khalifa stand on the sand. Tonnes of concrete are sunk into the sand, making the structure’s bottom heavy and steady.

v. Is Burj al-Arab and Burj Khalifa the same building?

Often confused, the Burj Khalifa and the Burj Al Arab are two different buildings. The Burj al Arab is in the form of a sail right at the shore of the ocean, while Burj Khalifa is the tallest structure standing among others in downtown Dubai.

Final Thoughts on Dubai Architecture

There are many cities in the world, but none is like Dubai because of its architecture and diversity. There is immense technology and the use of efficient heat-resistant materials to keep the buildings habitable in the Dubai marina. From the courtyard houses to the Sheikh Zayed Road, Downtown Dubai, Dubai’s silicon oasis, and the shores, the city is on the world map today because of its impressive architecture.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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