Abu Dhabi may play second fiddle right now in the United Arab Emirates to the skyscraper boom of Dubai but all this could be about to change as the Gate project by Sorouh Real Estate begins construction on site.
The not so imaginatively titled Sky Tower will be the tallest of the eight building project at 389 metres tall and 83 storeys. It will be flanked by a series of shorter towers including four that are interconnected via a sky-bridge running over the entirety of their top floors that includes an infinity pool... that is you can look over the edge of the water on to the drop below.
The apartments in the scheme will get larger from one and two bedrooms to three and four as the height increases on each floor. As well as the residential floors the Sky Tower will also have its fair share of office floors on the 39 lowest floors of the skyscraper giving it two separate entrances on different sides of the project for the different uses.
To provide transport for residents, architects Arquitectonica have planned for 2600 parking spaces in the basement levels underneath the development. There will also be waterways linking the complex together and extending out past its borders to connect with other projects.
All of this will be part of the Al Reem Island Shams Abu Dhabi Project, Abu Dhabi's response to Dubai plus an attempt to replicate its success. The Al Reem Island project is a scheme involving dozens of new towers set on an island surrounding by idyllic park land, grand boulevards and palm trees. In an attempt to build a modern xanadu there is even a pyramid planned.
Located 300 metres off the main existing Abu Dhabi conurbation, the figures for Al Reem Island Shams are huge - 2.5 million cubic metres of fill under the roads, 1850 line metres of sewers and 33 manholes, 1.320 million square metres of space and 70,000 new homes plus 50 billion us dollars of investment.
In reality, instant cities almost never work. Whether this project finally overcomes this issue remains to be seen but from the past whether it was the instant urban growth of industrial England or the planned post war modernism of war damaged cities this approach has always failed no matter how much money is thrown at it.
The marketing material may be glistening but turning it into a living breathing city that will last hundreds of years is another thing entirely but Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE has played second fiddle to Dubai and this could now be coming to an end.