The legendary hotel Burj Al Arab constructed in the form of a sail is much more than simply a beautiful architectural sight of the city. It is a symbol of modern Dubai and its integral part. All inhabitants and city visitors are delighted with the building of the hotel. Its construction, construction materials used, architectural style and design, and unusual location attract tourists from all over the world. In this regard, to define and estimate all the majesty of the building, the basic elements of its construction and design should be studied more closely.
In 1993, the architect of Burj Al Arab Tom Wright received the vision of the hotel from the resort company Jumeirah International. The company wanted to create an iconic building, which could be easily distinguished among the other world’s great landmarks. Furthermore, price was not a factor in that situation. Referring to the fishing past of Dubai, Tom Wright and his company W.S. Atkins & Partners offered their customer the Arabian-dhow-like project. Besides, Jumeirah wanted its magnificent hotel to be built off the coast so that the monolithic tower would not reflect a shadow on other beach resorts (Dowdey 2011).
Burj Al Arab, which is also called as the tower of the Arabs, is a peak of architectural art, and its height is 321 metres, i.e. taller than the Eiffel Tower by 21 metres. The hotel is built on the artificial island in the Arabian Gulf, which is constructed almost 80 metres offshore, and it is seen from any sight of the city. Tom Wright of Atkins was the architect who designed the building of Burj Al Arab. The construction of the hotel was completed in 1999, and it has 202 rooms. The Burj Al Arab hotel has 60 floors and 18 elevators. The hotel is known for its idiosyncratic architecture and looks like a seven-star hotel; however, it is only a five-star hotel (Delaney 2011).
Built in the shape of a dhow, Burj Al Arab faced the latter-day engineering issues associated with the construction of such a large building, which is above 1.2 million square feet, on the artificial island. The foundation was built more than two years ago, and it included the installation of large rocks in a honeycomb prototype and mounting deep foundation with a great number of 130 foot foundation piles. Over 3,000 companies were involved in the construction of the project, which took more than five years to be completed. According to the requirements of Sheikh Mohammed, the hotel Burj Al Arab had to reflect the aspirations of modern Dubai, and this goal was achieved. The ancient trading maritime port had global ambitions and demanded a global icon. Unlike any other construction in the world, its structure is erecting up out of the sea. Burj Al Arab is a representative of Dubai that has changed the psychological conception of the city in terms of world minds (Delaney 2011).
Approximately two years were spent to create an island that stands on the foundation made of sand, which is held in place by friction. Builders drilled steel stilts into the seabed. The stilts had to maintain the massive building and were enclosed in the sheath around the island with precast concrete units, which were the specially projected hollow blocks aimed to minimize the force of the waves. Later, workers filled the structure with sand bailed out the offshore seabed (Dowdey 2011). Built on its own separate artificial island, Burj Al Arab can be reached in a few ways, namely by a causeway, driving one of the courtesy white Rolls Royces offered by the hotel to its guests, helicopter, which delivers guests straight to the hotel’s helipad cantilevered out from the top floor of the building, or yacht, also offered by the hotel (ArchiTravel 2013).
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The triangular 120 metre long artificial island was constructed by means of installation of 260 piles 45 metres into the bed of the sea that was a necessity because the wind pressure on the 28th floor can achieve approximately 6100 Pa. The building also had to be constructed so that it could withstand a corrosive atmosphere and seismic tremors of the gulf. The structural materials of the highest quality were delivered from around the world in order to support this technical and architectural challenge. The sail-like facade is built of a double-skinned Teflon-coated light pipe fibre screen. In this form, the technology was utilized vertically for the first time and further extended in any building worldwide (Dow Corning 2010).
Burj Al Arab consists of a steel exoskeleton, mast, highly reflective glass, and defining fabric sail. The exoskeleton is erected in a V-form. The mast that is not a part of the building exoskeleton swells 197 feet above the top of the hotel. Behind, both structures are combined and supported by the straight line of the mast. The Sky View Restaurant is located on the side of the mast, i.e. 656 feet above the ocean. The circular helipad is seemingly hanged in front of the sail (Dowdey 2011). The architects chose steel for this building because this material is flexible and constructable. For the construction of the hotel, thousands of tonnes of structural materials were applied, such as 60000 cubic metres of concrete, 12,000 ton of structural steelworks, 9,000 ton of reinforcing steel, 10000 square metres of Teflon-coated glass fibre cloth, 80000 square metres of cladding, etc. (Nathan 2006).
The hotel architects chose Dow Corning product range in order to provide reliable solutions that were required by this unique construction project, especially taking into account the particular weather conditions. The Burj Al Arab facade was completed with Dow Corning 993, Dow Corning Q3-3793, and Dow Corning 984 silicone sealants. The large aquarium placed in the foyer was sealed with Dow Corning 795, and Firestop 400 was applied internally. Besides, Dow Corning started cooperation with companies in the US, UK, Dubai, and Japan in order to complete the project (Dow Corning 2010).
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The concept of the hotel was based upon the imitation of the spinnaker sail of a yacht, reflecting the seafaring heritage of Dubai. Its designer was Tom Wright. The structure of Burj Al Arab is made up of steel profiles that provide excellent stability for its plan of the triangle shape and triangle facades. The passageway to the hotel is represented with the footbridge that leads to the hall, which is located between the walls of a man-made tank. In the middle of this hall over 180 metres high, geysers of 30 meters in height are emitted by a source every half hour. Precious silk, marble, and walls covered with 22-carat gold contribute to environmental ornamentation. The hotel Burj Al Arab features 202 double suites with an area from 169 square metres to 780 square metres. The suites of the hotel are divided into 142 luxury rooms, four club suites, eighteen panoramic suites, six suites of three beds, twenty-eight double suites, two royal and two presidential suites (ArchiTravel 2013).
In the hotel, the parameter of solar energy incidence should be constantly monitored and regulated annually in order to avoid overload of energy, i.e. heat and energy in the habitable areas. In this regard, the constructors built the front facade of the building without glass, but they applied a double-skinned translucent white cloth screen covering the structure. Throughout the day, this overage admits white light but eludes overheating of the hotel’s interior by reflecting most incoming energy back to the outside space, projecting shadows on the surrounding constructions. In addition, the central hall is refrigerated by water evaporation from the artificial inner pools. During the night, this membrane is unlighted, creating a visual performance both in the interior space and outside (Nathan 2006).
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The projector equipped with low-voltage halogen lamps producing bright light shines elements of crystal and silver onto the big screen. Some illuminators with halogen lamps of low voltage are installed around the bases of the columns and the lift socket in the hotel reception area. The unique direction of light emitted from them creates a high striking effect. These uplighters are a part of presentation, which is necessary for the achievement a dramatic scene of the hall space. In the architecture of the hotel featured with an impressive visual impact, exterior lighting also plays an important role. During the whole night, the hotel’s exterior lighting is changing colour patch from white to multi-coloured. The idea of the designers was to create a small vision of lights, enriching the construction of the building with expressiveness and illuminating the image of the hotel in the surrounding landscape (Hassanien, Dale, Clarke & Herriott 2012).
Burj Al Arab is also famous for its fountains decorating the hotel lobby and a 600 foot tall atrium. The suites are the continuation of the lobby. They are ornamented with gold, bathroom murals and mirrors on the ceilings above the beds. The hotel rooms are impressive and comfortable suites that worthy of their cost and reputation. All suites include two levels, which contain a living room, private bar, dining area, dressing room, guest bathroom, big bedroom, and bath equipped with Jacuzzi. The suite size starts from 1,800 square feet on the main floor to 8,400 square feet in the upper part (Delaney 2011).
The atrium of the hotel occupies about a third of the building’s space and stands up 590 feet above the lobby. The ground floors have ocean-blue lower parts that dissolve in an atmospheric light as far as they are in close proximity to the atrium’s ceiling, blurring the boundary line between interior and exterior. White balconies are scalloped. There are massive pillars gold-plated in 22-carat along several floors, and gold curtain walls leap and intersect between them. The Burj Al Arab does not impede its softly enlightened atrium with a trivial check-in counter (Dowdey 2011).
The Burj Al Arab hotel was constructed with caution on the Arab sheiks. In the hotel interiors, the South African handmade carpets decorate stairs made of Carrara marble. On the first floor, aquariums with dozens of species of multi-coloured tropical fishes and even sharks are established instead of walls. The designers applied 8000 square metres of mosaic gold for the decoration of door handles, frescos on columns, and two aquariums between which there is a step fountain. The best view opens from the panoramic suite, which is located under the hotel roof and occupies two floors of 225 square metres (Hassanien, Dale, Clarke & Herriott 2012).
Taking into account all the above-mentioned information, it should be noted the Burj Al Arab hotel is the heart of Dubai and one of the most attractive and luxury hotels in the world. The hotel was established many years ago, and its construction involved a great amount of various companies, suppliers of materials, and workers from many countries. Operation on the global basis and a combination of the latest technological trends allowed the resort company Jumeirah International to create an icon of Arabian hospitality and deliver sound solutions to creative construction projects of the hotel. Thus, the excellent design and unique location of Burj Al Arab attracts visitors from all over the world every day.