Dubai Renaissance by OMA



Dubai Renaissance is a building designed last year by Rem Koolhaas and Fernando Donis of OMA as an entry for a competition for iconic central feature at Business Bay in Dubai. OMA lost the competition to Zaha Hadid's Dancing Towers project, but now OMA is negotiating to build the structure at another site in the Emirate.


Conceived as an "anti-icon", the competition entry proposed a slim, monolithic revolving slab; the idea of rotation was added, Koolhaas admitted at the International Design Forum last week, since he guessed he would not win the competition without a novelty of some sort.


Now proposed instead for the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary in Dubai - and minus the rotating - the building features collaborations with figures including sculptor Anish Kapoor (below), landscape designer Petra Blaisse and industrial designer Konstantin Grcic.


>> see more architectural projects in the United Arab Emirates on our Google map

>> click here to see all our posts from the International Design Forum


A project description and credits from OMA follow, plus images from Koolhaas' lecture at the International Design Forum:


Dubai Renaissance Text

A single monolithic volume constructed, like an elevator core, in one continuous operation – 200 meters wide and 300 meters tall comprising of offices and business forums, hotel and residential suites, retail, art and urban spaces.


The ambition of this project is to end the current phase of architectural idolatry – the age of the icon – where obsession with individual genius far exceeds commitment to the collective effort that is needed to construct the city…


Instead of an architecture of form and image, we have created a reintegration of architecture and engineering, where intelligence is not invested in effect, but in a structural and conceptual logic that offers a new kind of performance and functionality.

So far, the 21st century trend in city building leads to a mad and meaningless overdose of themes, extremes, egos and extravagance.

What is needed is a new beginning, a Renaissance… Dubai is confronted by its most important choice: Does it join so many others in this mad, futile race or does it become the first 21st century metropolis to offer a new credibility?

The design of the building wastes no energy on useless invention. It proposes a single monolithic volume constructed, like an elevator core, in one continuous operation – 200 meters wide and 300 meters tall. Instead of competing with the Burj Dubai merely in terms of height, it overshadows it in terms of presence and substance...

If the shape of the Renaissance offers a massive presence from one side, from another angle it reveals exceptional slenderness...

Both conditions will stand out among the surrounding towers, a radical experiment in alternating identities.


Project: Dubai Renaissance
Status: Ongoing
Client: Dubai Properties Ltd
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Site Competition: Dubai Business Bay
Site Current Proposal: Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
Program: Total 425 500m2: Residential 67 800m2; Hotel 76 200m2; Offices 125 000m2; Retail 16 500m2; Parking 120 000m2; Culture 57 000m2

In charge:
Rem Koolhaas, Fernando Donis

Katrin Betschinger, Miho Mazereeuw, Laurent Troost, Martin Gallovsky, Ben Milbourne, Maria Derevencova, Katharina Gerlach, Mihal Gdak, Beatriz Minguez de Molina, Bart Schoonderbeek, Anneke van Zuethem, Clement Blanchet, Suzannah Waldron

ARUP: Cecil Balmond, Chris Carroll, Craig Gibbons, Alistair Guthrie, Gaspar Dorey
Inside Outside: Petra Blaisse, Rosetta Elkin
Konstantin Grcic Industrial Design: Konstantin Grcic, Nitzan Cohen
Lerch, Bates & Associates: Adrian Godwin
Dorsser Blesgraaf: Renz van Luxemburg
Ducks Scéno: Michel Cova
Models: Vincent de Rijk
Photography: Hans Werlemann, Frans Parthesius
Irma Boom Design: Irma Boom, Sonja Haller
Art: Hans Ulrich Obrist, Chris Dercon
Tate, London: Sir Nicholas Serota, Erica Bolton
Serpentine Gallery: Julia Peyton-Jones, Hans Ulrich Obrist

Posted on Thursday June 7th 2007 at 12:16 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Matt

    I think that Rem is concluding his theory in a building form. I mean anti-ego anti-overdose-themed projects? The fact that he has lost the competition and persuading the client to reconsider a second site for his proposal, THAT is EGO. THAT is OVERDOSE of THEME to start a new RENAISSANCE in Dubai.

    I can understand the educational value of it to other architects but I also understand the answer of any architects to a Dubai client’s brief. IT’s just not gonna happen when your clients want you to build something ‘wild’

    I think honesty is important when you are a theorist in architecture and knowing the influence that you have on other people(especially the young architects), contradictions and irony sometimes could happen. I mean look at the Public library in seattle. It’s well resolved but not covering the fact that Rem was building his ego! anyway – something to think about.

  • Ben

    “The design of the building wastes no energy on useless invention. It proposes a single monolithic volume constructed, like an elevator core, in one continuous operation – 200 meters wide and 300 meters tall. Instead of competing with the Burj Dubai merely in terms of height, it overshadows it in terms of presence and substance…”

    A rotating building is not a useless invention? Pot meets kettle and I am really sad to say so because when this building first came out I praised it for being so crisp and refreshing..but now it just looks like a microwave re-heated dish

  • kemorrr

    OMA says whatever is needed by them. What is the CCTV if not an icon? How about Porto, Seattle and others? OMA have change their way of designing in 90. from conceptual, boxy objects to shapeful icons – no doubt about it. Now sometimes it seems to be a really disgusting intellectual attitude. A true and profound example of post-modern dogma of being relative in every aspect of life.

  • simple modern style, but the big surprise will be in interior, because oma is a genius for spatial inventions.

  • these projects will really portray Dubai’s international growth and city development. An will also portray Dubai’s diversity of foreign investments. these beautiful projects are ambitious but at the same time it’s a vision of the sheiks of Dubai that have been passed along their ancestors.

  • Pey

    where is CN Tower. Isn’t CN T ower the longest tower in the world??

  • Pey. CN Tower is the tallest building in the world today bu not for long.

  • razif

    hmm….actually, i do like this look. Nothing personal, don’t fancy Rem too much either.. but this is one of the better skyscraper from OMA. The context was right on point. .

    I was just thinking .. how does the helicopter land ?

  • tyk

    the architect’s intention purports to be noble. i cannot but help agree on the ego-building tirade. but what’s the point with the rotating? please don’t.
    maybe if it could tilt too.)

    and the sculptural (anish k?) conference looks a little ill. i am surprised. perhaps more fotos search for.

  • Emily

    Looks like the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

  • David

    “Wastes no energy on useless invention.” How about useful invention? I’m having a hard time believing this wasn’t a joke pulled by OMA.

    For example, the Anish Kapoor rendering is a photoshopped image of the conference room in Dr. Strangelove.