At 550 meters above the earth, Burj Khalifa is encircled by a massive ring in an exquisite new design.
This new idea from the architecture firm Znera Space would change the skyline of Dubai.
Downtown Circle, a 550-meter-tall ring that will encircle Burj Khalifa, is the name of the proposed project. The proposal is meant to challenge conventional notions of skyscraper housing and gated communities. Additionally, sustainability and self-sufficiency are goals.
Artist renderings show how big the tower will be. It is expected to have a diameter of three kilometers and circle all of Downtown Dubai.
It will be divided into smaller parts, each of which will have residences as well as areas for public, commercial, and cultural use.
The huge project was designed by Najmus Chowdry and Nils Remess, who started the company Znera Space and often work on experimental architecture that looks at and challenges social limits and environmental concerns.
The two came up with Downtown Circle as a result of the pandemic, which gave rise to the notion of reconsidering how we live in cities, particularly in skyscrapers.
“We wanted to go down to the basics of how gated communities were established as a very horizontal built environment,” Chowdry says. “But you can’t have that here because of the dense urban fabric of Dubai. The best way to explore and practise this concept was in Downtown itself.”
Remess continues, “The concept was of a vertical city.” “When Covid-19 hit hard, we thought a lot about suitability and how can we change things, and how we can create better urban planning. We looked at aspects such as garbage disposal, food production, traffic problems, pollution. We put all these things together and came up with the concept.”
The five floors of Downtown Circle are supported by five points, or pillars, that are buried in the earth. The enormous width of the circle would be made up of two primary rings that would be joined vertically by a continuous green space called the Skypark to form a connected three-dimensional urban green eco-system.
Agriculture was one of their goals, claims Remess. “Usually cities begin with agriculture and then continue with urbanisation. Today, many big cities are faced with the problem of how they can add more agriculture. This is one of the aspects we wanted to add into this concept — a self-sufficient city.”
Skypark would also have swamps, waterfalls, tropical vegetation, and other floras, serving as a lung for the building. As part of the urban ecosystem, the design calls for spaces for rainwater collection, solar power generation, and a mechanism for storing carbon and filtering air pollution.
The design and sketches, which were produced in partnership with Poland-based visualisations firm Pictown, also feature a tram proposal for the outer perimeter ring. Passengers would be transported around the Downtown Circle in twenty roomy pods that could go up to 100 miles per hour and provide 360-degree views of the city.
The Line megaproject in Neom, Saudi Arabia is comparable to the concept of an autonomous city within a metropolis. The Line is supposed to be built in the desert, where there is a lot of space. It is different from Znera Space in that it is built into an already existing city.
While creating Downtown Circle, Chowdry and Remess took into account all facets of urban living, including the social, economical, and environmental ones, but they are equally excited by the conversation about what is feasible in terms of design.
Chowdry claims that one of architects’ responsibilities is to generate these concepts. “We want people to comment on it, criticise it, to see how we can think about building topographies.”
“It also raises the discussion of what we can do better,” adds Remess. “The way we build cities, the way we plan things. There can be negativity around this type of discussion but also solutions in how we can change things for the better.”