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Futuristic fodder |Jeff Roberts|




I’m a sceptic. I’ll be the first to admit it. I don’t buy into the latest trends when it comes to shoes, clothes or cars. I don’t dress “retro” because I see today’s Hollywood or Bollywood stars clad in fashions from the 60s and 70s. I don’t use words like “bling” and nothing in my life ever “shizzles” or “nizzles”. And, for the love of all that is good and decent in this world, when I do send a text message, I certainly don’t type things like that awful 🙂 or use pseudo-acronym “lol”.

As a kid, I grew up dreaming of cars that could fly and buildings that were suspended amongst the clouds as if held by the strings of some omniscent puppet master. I dreamt of those things because they represented a fantasy world; something which held massive intrigue but which – as a ground dweller – I couldn’t fully understand. I’m not convinced I understand much more in my adult life.

As property exhibitions and building launches come and go and software programmes and engineering capabilities continue to improve, the buildings I dreamt of as a kid seem to be taking shape – at least in the digital realm – which is strangely unnerving. There is something eerily incorrect about a building that mimics an organism. Perhaps I’ve lost some of the imagination or intrigue I had as a child; perhaps I’ve become too much of a realist to be writing about a creative industry. But, a question I find myself uttering more and more when these futuristic buildings are launched is, “where is the line between visionary and lunacy?”

I’m going to put this out there. I don’t believe in David Fisher’s rotating tower. Scores of people bought into his idea – they bought into it so much so that he sold his idea not once, but twice. Still, I don’t believe.

I don’t think his technicians have offered suitable explanations for how basic MEP services will work in a tower that rotates floor-by-floor, in opposing directions. Moreover, I don’t think his architects and engineers have provided suitable answers to how 60-odd floors of living space can all cantilever off one central core. Or, what that core would need to be made of in order to support the floors and the increased loads incurred through momentum. But, for all the worldwide publicity he’s gotten from his unique idea, no one from the Fisher camp seems willing to step up and address some of the very basic, but very real criticisms.

I don’t mean to pick on Fisher; his is just one of the buildings recently launched that instills little faith in me. Whether it is a modern-day pyramid for a million people; its been designed to mimic the biological functions of a tree; or meant to surpass 1.5 miles in height, I don’t believe it.

I do not believe most of the buildings we’re seeing advertised will ever happen. I think clever marketing and brand management have found in the Middle East a fool’s paradise where slick presentations, artful renderings and strong logos are all someone needs to get in, get rich and get out.

I’m a sceptic but I do love a good challenge. Please someone…anyone…prove me wrong. I want to believe.


Jeff Roberts is the editor of Middle East Architect.

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