Towers with a twistby Elizabeth Broomhall on Feb 22, 2011
In an era where architects have a passion for innovation and modernity, and a region where traditional architecture is aligned with a taste for opulence and luxury, it comes as no surprise to find twisting towers dotted across skylines throughout the GCC.
No longer are designers and developers thinking conventionally and conservatively; rather, they are pushing the design boundaries constantly.
And while it is assumed that this is just a Dubai trend it has, in reality, become a GCC-wide phenomenon as the region continues to push forward with its plans to become one of the most fascinating places in the world.
The Infinity Tower
Probably the best example of a tower with a twist is the famous residential building in Dubai Marina, the Infinity Tower. Spiralling into the sky as construction progresses, the tower will eventually reach 73 storeys and 305m, making it the world’s tallest twisted skyscraper.
According to the developer, it was designed as a twisting tower to maximise the views from the building.
On the lower floors there are more units orientated toward the Dubai Marina, while near the top they face the Arabian Gulf. And yet the Infinity Tower does not simply set itself apart from the rest for being twisted.
More unique is the angle of rotation, which at 90 degrees far surpasses the ‘twistiness’ of other twirling skyscrapers. The effect is achieved by having each floor or slab plate rotate 1.08 degrees around a fixed cylinder core, so that once the tower is completed, the 73 floors will add up to a cumulative 90 degree angle.
“The Burj [Khalifa] is an achievement by virtue of its remarkable height, whereas the Infinity Tower represents a new trend in tall-building design where sculptural shapes are now possible,” says Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM) architect Ross Wilmer.
As for construction, the project has come on strong after an initial setback in 2007 when a diaphragm wall that held back the sea was breached, flooding the site, costing the developer an additional $27million on dewatering.
Other challenges have included keeping the geometry of the condominiums as regular as possible, in spite of the tower’s external shape, and to be sure that the tower could be built quickly and efficiently.
This was overcome by stepping the structure of the tower and designing the framing so that the same formwork could be used for all of the floors in the building, simply rotated about one degree at each successive floor level.
Not knowing how the building would react to strong winds and bad weather meant the architects had to ‘over-design’ the building. Incidentally, they discovered in the testing that the twisted shape performs better in the wind than a rectangular extrusion of the same proportions.
Architect: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM)
Value: $272 million
Status: Under construction – completion scheduled for April 2011
Rotation: 90 degrees
Height: 305m (73 storeys)
Location: Dubai Marina
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