Tom Wright: Architect of Burj Al Arab, DubaiDocument Transcript
DesignTom Wright Tom Wright is the architect and designer of the Burj al Arab inDubai, UAE.The Burj Al Arab (Tower of the Arabs) was conceived in October 1993 and completed on sitein 1999. The lower left image shows Tom Wright′s first drawing of the Burj al Arab conceptthat was shown to the client in October 1993 which along with the simple card model shownabove convinced the client that the tower should be built. The felt pen illustration to the leftwas an early development sketch of the hotel drawn by Wright on a paper serviette whilsthe sat on the terrace of the Chicago Beach hotel which stood adjacent to the site of the Burjal Arab.The brief to the architect was to create an icon for Dubai, a building that would becomesynonymous with the place, as Sydney has its opera house and Paris the Eiffel Tower soDubai was to have the Burj al Arab. On the links page the Atkins Press pack can bedownloaded which contains further information on the Burj al Arab.Tom Wright lived in Dubai during the design and construction of the project working as theproject Design Director for Atkins one of the world′s leading multi discipline designconsultancies.Since 1999 Tom Wright has continued to work for Atkins as Head of Architecture from theAtkins H.Q. in Epsom, London.Tom Wright is British, born in Croydon a suburb of London on 18th September 1957.Educated at the Royal Russell School and then Kingston Polytechnic school of Architecture.Wright became a member of the Royal institute of British Architects in 1983 and has been inpractice ever since.FAQ questions & answers on the design of Burj Al Arab hotel by Tom Wright, Design DirectorWhat was the brief for the hotel?The client asked us to design a building that would become a symbol for Dubai. Sidney hasit’s Opera House and New York has the Statue of Liberty so Dubai would also have abuilding that people would associate with the place.
What makes a building symbolic?We looked at the other buildings in the world that are symbols to see what they had incommon. We found that they were all totally unique in shape and they all have a simpleeasily recognisable form. We decided that the test to determine if a building is symbolic is ifyou can draw it in 5 seconds and every one recognises it.Why did you make the hotel look like a giant sail?Dubai is becoming a world resort location so the building had to say holiday, fun andsophistication all things associated with yachting. This mixed with Dubai’s nautical heritageit seemed an appropriate shape.Why is the hotel out to sea?It helps its uniqueness. It looks like a sail / boat. If it was on shore it would block the sunon the beach in the middle of the day.Does the hotel stand on rock?The building is built on sand, which is unusual as most tall building are founded on rock. Thebuilding is supported on 250 1.5M diameter columns that go 45 meters under the sea. Asthere is only sand to hold the building up the columns rely on friction.Are there any unusual materials used in the building?The screen that encloses the third side of the atrium is made of 1mm thick glass fibre fabricwith a Teflon coat to stop the dirt sticking. The screen is the largest of it’s type and coversan area of one and a half football pitch and is hung from the top of the building by over akilometre of 52mm cable.Other amazing facts…The diagonal trusses on the side of the building are as long as a football pitch and weigh asmuch as 20 double-decker busses. They were built 15 KM from the site and brought by roadto Dubai on huge 80 wheel lorries which had to be specially imported from South Africa. Thehighest truss took a day to lift into place.If one man was to build the building himself it would take about 8,000 years to finish.