The Cloud by Atelier Hapsitus



The Cloud is a speculative design for a resort city elevated 300 metres in the air above Dubai and supported on slanting legs resembling rain. Update: this project is included in Dezeen Book of Ideas, which is on sale now for £12.


Designed by Nadim Karam of Lebanese architect Atelier Hapsitus, the concept was presented at the International Design Forum in Dubai last month.


We'll update this post with more information about the project soon. Update 18/06/07: below is some text about the project from Atelier Hapsitus, plus details of the new book about The Cloud:


The Cloud, the Desert and the Arabian breeze

At the forefront of the few cities today experiencing exponential growth, Dubai is the ultimate city of mutation. Within its constantly-changing scenery and infinite growth-scale, Dubai needs a dream expressing its current transient phase. If cities can dream, does Dubai have a dream?


The Cloud of Dubai is one of a series of Gulf region projects created by Nadim Karam and Atelier Hapsitus. It is inspired by the nomads, whose lives were defined by the rigours of their relation to sun, water and sand, and whose travels followed the borderless movement of clouds. The Cloud is a trip, a playful adventure in the city. It is a horizontal presence on an elevated platform, an antithesis to the sum of skyscrapers spreading over the entire region. The Cloud is a dream, suspended between artificiality and reality.


Above: plan


Above: plan sketch


Above: section


An essentially sustainable project standing at a height of approximately 300 metres, the Cloud is a 20000m2 landscape-in-the-sky comprising a lake, gardens, rotating bridges, spiraling walkways and terraces, an auditorium and sky-sports platform. The Cloud is approached on ground level from an esplanade with a pool reflecting a forest of inclined columns reaching up to the huge, translucent floating island. Access to the Cloud is gained through a few non-inclined tubular shafts, which double as structural support. In collaboration with ARUP AGU (Advanced Geometry Unit), significantly creative technological solutions are being developed for its realization.


Published in May 2007 by Booth-Clibborn Editions, London, 2007, ‘The Cloud, the Desert and the Arabian Breeze’ by Nadim Karam & Atelier Hapsitus presents the Cloud through a narrative whose protagonist explores Dubai, seeking a dream for the city.


Posted on Thursday June 14th 2007 at 1:19 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • pug

    I bet my life this will never be built.

  • mochili

    Dubai is building these opulent structures to spur tourism
    they will run out of oil(cash) in 3 years
    too little too late i think,the local economy relies on near slavery now
    when the oil stops flowing i predict Dubai will be swallowed up in the sand

  • I can’t wait to visit Dubai I love every thing I’ve seen there!!!!

    from the team Inspirational Experiences

  • Riiiight


  • if it gets built anywhere it will be in Dubai, artificial islands, artificial ski slopes now artificial cloud

  • Lol, I can’t help but think of the Jetsons when I see this structure. Wheres Elroy?

  • Yvonne

    what a brilliant bit of architecture. lets hope it happens

  • Sam

    Looks impressive architectually.

    From an engineering point of view, unless the rain from the cloud falls vertically, its basically going to fall down in a cloud of dust.

  • div

    How many slaves, trapped on a few $ a month will it take to build this one?

  • Wow is that for real? Some realy amazing buildings are coming out of Dubai.

  • This is by far the Dumbest Architecture idea i have ever seen. This would be the worst eyesore and the creator should be shot in the face

  • efrosini

    it looks wonderful and not an expert in order to state my opinion if this is possible or not….but since political views are arising in here and since I had working in the UAE for some time, I find I must point out to all that
    1. Yes it is a waiste of money and am sure the UAE could do so much more to help poor countries around the world, evenso, it is THEIR money and THEIRS ONLY and therefore cannot comment further.
    2. The UAE is not all Middle East (something that most U.S. population don’t tend to know or even start to understand) and the UAE is making money from it’s oil, something that is essential to all and not from selling weapons worlwide, creating conflicts between nations and starting wars where so many people have lost their lives.
    3. UAE is not stealing their capital from anyone but gaining it through trading it’s exports (making it clear once again)
    4. Nothing wrong with making dreams even when sometimes not possible. Agree on manpower which is essential for projects similar to this one and the conditions they live in but all must know (I was working on a construction site for over a year), that these manpower firms have been established in the UAE by British & American businessmen.
    5. Hopefully people may be able to dream of more practical and helpfull things and situations for the well being of humanity (prevention of starvation, stopping wars, etc.)

  • MajiK

    This would look great at about ~3-to-20 stories high connected and supported in some manner to a larger building. The “rain” could be have water made turbulent by mixing it with air (bubbles). Or it could be actually water let loose Vegas-style from the underside of the transparent cloud-shaped VIP bar that would be connected to some commercial building or hotel. Or a mixture of these solid and liquid sculptural elements…that would make for a nice spectacle along with a light show…ahem. I have a feeling it would end up being nicknamed “The Urinal”.

    The originally proposed design would have so much torsion so as to be impossible no matter how many verticals(unless the main structure was 100-150m long with a substantial enough width). 300m up with no horizontal bracing for so small a structure is insanity.

    More spit and wind from the desert.

  • Malay

    This unique project is going to be executed by the end of year 2012 and there are more to come for my beloved Dubai. It is not oil that makes Dubai on what it is today, it all comes from a vision of a great man that is turning it into a beautiful reality… The best place to ever live!!!
    The Art of Building Team UAE-Dubai

  • Some people say “UAE has the vision”. I beg to differ. UAE has the money. None of the architects are from the UAE.

  • Johan

    I think people must stop beeing so critical in life, I think this might not be the most beautiful “building” in the world and might not even get built. But who am I to judge, if they get this thing built I would want to see it plainly for its Engineering and structural wonder.
    People must critisize less and work together towards architectural perfection (if there ever will be such a thing as perfection, who is the judge to perfection?), we as architects and designers have the right to dream don’t we. How else will buildings like the Burj ever been built if it wasn’t for a dream.

  • Hammad Raza

    Amazing…….increasing the beauty of Dubai comparatively.

  • Jimmy

    One more ridiculous addition to the funfare that is Dubai.
    Only time will prove that civilisation is about more than cheap (but very expensive) thrills

  • SAM

    has God created the world or is man inventing his own ?????? its yet to be seen. But seeing this the later statment seems to be coming true…and if it really happens then the statment will be confirmed….but please don’t forget He is still the owner of this entire universe…remeber the story of how man said to God, “we don’t need you now as we mastered the technique of giving birth…(cloning of human)”. God was impressed and asked for a demonstration. Man quickly got down to collect some earth to mould into the shape of a man he was to clone…God said “What are you doing, thats my earth…you first creat your own earth and then brag about being able to give life”……so guys…designers…don’t forget..don’t try to do the inthinkable that it may back fire….

  • Ron

    Go for it Dubai!

  • Nisha

    total fanatics. Ideas brought into reality which will bring value addition is good idea , otherwise its something like this. Absolutely unneccassary!!

  • Orionsbow

    No REAL structural designer or anyone schooled in physics could look at such an absurd piece of nonsense with anything more than a passing chuckle. The columns, as described, could not possibly support the weight of the living unit above as they do not appear to be load bearing in any real way. A slanted support will not bear weight on it’s apex without substantial support on the lower end in the opposite direction. To maintain structural integrity at three hundred meters up, these slanting supports need to be criss-cross braced from about midway. Otherwise, they would catastrophically fail during the building process just as soon as they received a load greater than the midpoint load bearing maximum. You can’t build things with slanted supports if they only slant in one direction unless you provide equal, opposite direction bracing. Oh, of course, this statement precludes the development of some super dense, weight bearing material developed in the near future by the Arabs. Like KRYPTONITE, maybe, or SCIFILUMINUM. Pure nonsense, just like Parisian runway fashions and haute couture.

  • Lyzza Blues

    It’s realy cool idea…Brilliant…Hope to see this soon…
    tak tercapai akal mu!!

  • Ismail

    how wil people shit?

  • wayfarer

    The Prophet of Islam said” for every nation there is a trial. The trial of Muslims is wealth ( i.e. How they conduct themselves in their wealth).” These obscene displays of wealth are scary for the Muslims and all in the dangerous world we live in.
    Allaho yahdina wa yahdihim. Aamin.

  • shaz~

    nice…very nice~~

    me likey!!!

  • santosh

    simply mind blowing…

  • delian mayo

    Why don’t you just go play Second Life.

  • Bryan

    This is an interesting concept. If it can snow there why not have a cloud city.

    With all the starving people in the world why does no one care?

    We can waste money on anything but housing and feeding the needy.

    at least in second Life it can be done without costing anything but time in Real Life it is just silly like snow in the desert.

  • Luís

    I prefer when it’s sunny…

  • Dion

    what about the terrorists???
    one leg gone and shaboom its down in smoke

  • arnelly

    it’s a diabolically clever minds who plan and did this “clouds” .

    I’m interested of knowing the details of the structure to sustain such massive mass above.

    i wish i can go there above the cloud stepping on it surface.

  • Hilarious.
    I do not know which is more unimaginable. The concept of the project or the Pakistani guy playing cricket anywhere near a high profile building in Dubai.

    I hope the developers of ‘Bubble city’ has nothing to do with it.

  • Muru

    Really i’m looking forward this kind of design. Really wonderful and its will be going to one of world seven in the future.

    I wish a goodluck to team and UAE.


  • Greenday_obsessed

    Yeah sure its an architectural innovation or whatever but all this doesn’t seem to be alleviating the inequality in the world. I don’t wanna sound like a killjoy but the US, Britain and Dubai seem to be so into wasting money on stuff that looks good and they end up forgetting starving people, slavery and working children. THIS IDEA IS A LOAD OF CRAP- GIVE THE MONEY TO POOR PEOPLE. REMEMBER THEM?!?!?!!

  • 2 words:
    Le Corbusier.
    Eye candy…
    Nouveau riche.
    Daring sculpture con/fused with human living space.
    Review what has become of Corbusier’s homes.
    Residents reject his imposed forms.
    Then the mere durability of this ‘Cloud’ concept remains to be seen. Prototype and experiment is called for.
    Environments need to be evolved via experience-
    not simply manufactured to appeal to the eye.
    Such designs made for the eye- like Acropoli- are shrine, not home.

    Consider: whats it gonna look like when the plastic ‘translucent’ crap forming the ‘cloud’ effect gets sandblasted… goes dirty … &when it goes brownish-yellow under UV exposure. Attractive or gross?

    If history is any guide, endless compromise with reality will be the norm after the warranty runs out – ie., maintenance funding will pass onto later novelties. They’ll want to put a dome over it to protect it.
    \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ * * * OTOH * * * \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \
    The wealth that is Dubai could better -purrhaps more compassionately- concentrate on developing less glamorous innovations in sustainable, self-sufficient ‘Saharan’ desert economy.
    THAT would be true Futurism: a beneficial and marketable design solution addressing the 21st Century’s climate and population challenges. Not eye candy for corporate baronies.

  • Jay

    Most of you people make me sick.

    If it ever gets built (unlikely) it will be with THEIR money, not yours

    None of your taxes are going to pay for it, so you really have no say in it do you?

    They could choose to spend their oil revenue on building up their armed forces like every other middle eastern nation, but instead they put that money into building. Gee, what bastards.

    As for the immigrant workers getting low pay, the US/United Nations/God/Universe/etc. ain't finding work for them, but at least here they have the chance to make some money.

    What's better geniuses, having $0 (no job) or having something (work in Dubai)?

    Bloody hypocrites. Wearing your very cheap clothes, buying cheap TV's, computers, knowing FULL WELL that they were produced in China by people working $1 a day… yet you still buy them don't you?

    • Naimit

      Actually, on an Earth with limited resources and an explosion of biosphere-threatening dangers, that *is* our money potentially being pissed away in the clouds.

      Yes, robber barons lay claim to buckets of cash, but that doesn’t mean the money is morally theirs. When so many need so much so desperately, “projects” like this will never be anything other than decadent and vile.

  • Nick

    As an engineer, I cannot help but marvel at what stupid ideas people can come up with. Looks great in a drawing, but fundamentally flawed in almost every way.

  • Sachin Nema-Hyderabad

    I think, Here Decoration is more important then life.

    Why engineers are working for few Rich People???

    Human dont have much time left to live on earth. Why dont we utilize this money for needy of africa, south asia or inventing lifesaving drugs etc instead of decorations for few people.

  • que buuuenooooooooooooooo

  • gjo

    lol.. a lot of ppl r gna have trouble takin their foot out of their mouth when dis one’s built.. arup’s doing it mate.. cecil knows wot he’s doing.. unbelievers, google him..

  • how could this be an architecture??

  • What Dubai is doing isn’t sustainable at all. They are providing a very bad example to the rest of the world by building fancy and sparky things but missing out the real intention of living architecture…

  • jade

    There isn’t a building out here that even remotely resembles this.
    It’s all lies. LIES.
    All the other buildings are going to fall down soon anyway. The building is done so fast and carelessly it’s so rubbish.

  • This project is a dream… and it may actually be realized. We need to build more dreams if we are to improve things here on earth.


  • puney

    this is crazy!

  • Maan

    hashsha hushsha ALL FELL DOWN.

  • David

    How do you cool it down, how do you get water, then waste up and down the long supports. This, if built, as most huge projects built in Dubai would be a massive waste of energy, water and resources. The French airship hotel idea rocks though.

  • 1plus2minus3

    How about if they feed the poor with the money instead, now that would be something worth seeing!