A city within a building: Dubai’s latest “Pearl”

The latest soon-to-sprout architectural bewilderment in Dubai is the Dubai Pearl.

It’s hard not to be entertained by Dubai’s fetish for constructing (well, wanting to construct) rare-shaped buildings: a cube, a chess piece, a tulip, numbers (1 and 2), a wave, a sail and an iPod, are amongst some of the ‘only-fathomable-in-Dubai’ types. It was therefore a pleasant(?) surprise that this Pearl plan, isn’t in the shape of a pearl. I quite like its design — more of a sci-fi scape and less of a monstrosity, in my opinion.

Anyway, to be constructed at a Dubai-throw-away cost of $3 billion, the Pearl is special because not only will it have the usual luxury mall, hotel, spa, and residences, but it will also have a climate controlled pedestrian city — yes, an interior area built for people to walk!

In Dubai, if you are walking on the street (especially in the heat), don’t be surprised if you are the only soul using his feet to commute, or if someone stops to give you a ride because they see you as mad trying to walk anywhere in the city. But, build a space for people to walk, and people will drive there to go for a walk.
City Center — one of Dubai’s main shopping centers has something like “City Strolling” every Friday morning, where you go there especially for a morning walk. Yes, in a mall. Yes, many people go. So a climate controlled “pedestrian city” with sidewalk cafes will probably be a super hit in the city.

The Pearl will also boast a 21st century Covent garden (not sure if this will be inside or outside) and robot valet service! (*gasp*) I’m not sure what that means exactly, but I doubt people will be comfortable giving their Lamborghinis to some R2D2 to park.

It also says that the building will be the world’s first column-free structure (what does that mean!?), will have the capacity to cater to 20,000 people, and is due to open in 2010.