“It’s a bit of a tall order, as you can imagine given Dubai’s incredible architecture”, commented Ellie.
“If there is a shape or a form or an approach, it’s been done in the UAE. We had to look at turning this brief on its head and create an iconic set of experiences that can’t be found anywhere else. In fact, we summarised our concept at the end of our pitch by saying.”
" You can swim underwater, with a view of the Dubai skyline, 45 storeys in the air” – something completely unique and magical."
What we needed to do is make space and make those spaces conducive to living – to bring the outdoors into the experience of living at The Royal Atlantis. You can identify a lot of buildings with rooftop pools, and hotels or villas with gardens, but you can’t identify many vertical high-rise residences that have outdoor living that replicates the experience of an exclusive villa.
Situated as it is on the edge of The Palm, the building also needed to work as a bridge between the classic form of the nearby Atlantis, The Palm Resort and the hyper-modern architecture of Dubai’s skyline. It does so by rethinking a hotel’s usual double-loaded slab configuration and pulling it apart into a set of stacked blocks, the holes in which we call Sky Courts and the series of cantilever terraces it creates we call Sky Terraces.
The resulting design is 43 storeys high and comprises 795 guest rooms and suites and 231 residences. The structure is reminiscent of both the monumental arches of classical architecture and is entirely contemporary. As with much of the thought behind the building it also allows space and light into the structure, through which pours sun and sky, becoming part of the design itself.
The other inspiration we looked at was traditional Middle-Eastern architecture such as the Blue Mosque in Istanbul and its surrounding gardens, which gave us strong ideas about how to combine outdoor and indoor living. The gardens are designed to create a cooling microclimate through their use of water and deep-set shady colonnades.
The Royal Atlantis was not designed to look traditionally Arabic, but we found these time-tested techniques and design features were the best for creating livable outdoor spaces – Sky Courts – that, with their cool shade and private pools, can be used for most of the year.