How this architect is helping design a more sustainable Dubai

by Editor

Arabic calligraphy covers the shimmering, torus-shaped Museum of the Future in Dubai, which has 1,024 steel panels for its exterior and is supported by a steel diagrid rather than the usual columns. The technology required to build the exterior, which was developed using learning algorithms, was inspired by the aviation industry. According to architect Shaun Killa, “all the structural criteria were placed into a computer, and finally it trained to generate this shape.”

When it opens in February 2022, the structure will be a recognisable addition to Dubai’s already stunning skyline, which also contains the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab. Although Dubai’s architecture has gained recognition because to these contemporary, widely recognised buildings, the history of Dubai’s urban environment is far older. According to Todd Reisz, an architect and writer who is the author of Showpiece City: How Architecture Made Dubai, “often the idea is that it’s been a city of shining towers since the 2000s.”

On July 27, Shaun Killa, a creative partner of Killa Design, attended the Museum of the Future.
However, there is more to the creative synthesis shown in the architecture of buildings like Killa’s Museum of the Future. The fact that the city is a port and an entrepôt, according to Reisz, has probably had the biggest impact on the community. The exchange of ideas that resulted in some of the most ambitious architectural projects in the history of the world—projects in which Killa has played a significant role—is described as “a location of exchange and in-betweenness, where not only things and people come in and out, but also ideas.”

Killa initially moved in Dubai from South Africa in 1998. He joined the Atkins architecture firm and worked on one of the city’s most recognisable structures, the Burj Al Arab, which is designed like the sail of a sailboat and is situated on a man-made island. According to Killa, the scale of the buildings in Dubai “was so much bigger for an architect coming from Cape Town.” Killa went on to work on additional significant projects in Dubai including the Dubai Opera, the Address Boulevard, and the Almas Tower, the tallest structure in Dubai at the time. “If you’re used to smaller projects, it’s quite a challenge to conquer that scale,” he said.

Museum of the future: Dubai

In 2015, Killa established his own architecture firm, Killa Design, with the goal of creating future structures that integrate engineering innovation and technology. Sustainability is another motivating factor. Killa collaborated with experts in wind tunnels and bridges to construct the Bahrain World Trade Center (BWTC), which was finished in 2008. It is made up of two wing-shaped buildings with three 30-m wind turbines strung between them. Up to 15% of the building’s power is produced by the turbines, which are fed wind by the structures.

Georges Kachaamy, director of the Center for Research, Innovation, and Design at the American University in Dubai, claims that Killa has contributed to the advancement of architectural innovation in Dubai through his “challenging designs and to demonstrate the capacity to construct them using the latest technologies in the market.”

Killa also recognises the value of emphasising the livability of structures and cities, as well as developing additional areas that are bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly. A stronger focus, according to him, is being placed on making the world a more diverse place to live.

The Museum of the Future, which is situated in Dubai’s business area, is regularly featured on Instagram pictures because to its unique exterior. And like the city itself, it has evolved into a hub of activity—a vast area where people congregate, marvel, and interact. Regarding the public’s response to the museum, Killa says, “That enjoyment I witnessed people enjoying truly filled me with something that was extremely precious.” “They have now received the building.”

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