Soaring high above the clouds and thrusting proudly towards the heavens stands the Burj Dubai. This majestic silvery structure, which opens today, is the world’s tallest building.
In fact, the Burj, which means Tower, reaches such lofty heights that a new word has been coined to describe its magnitude – “superscraper”. It is at least 2,683ft, although the actual height will only be revealed at today’s inauguration, when organisers promise a hair-raising parachute jump.
The superscraper, which took six years to build as part of a £13billion development, is the height of the Taipei 101 in Taiwan with the Eiffel Tower on top. Its architects have hinted that the 169-floor Burj – which can be seen 60 miles away in Iran – could even break the 2,700ft mark.
Mirror photographer Noel Adams, 34, braved vertigo on the top floor during a sneak preview of the building – an experience he describes as “simply amazing”. Noel said: “It took us two hours to get from the bottom entrance to the top. “Being at the top made my knees wobble a bit because I’m not great with heights. It felt like I was in a small plane or helicopter. “But the views across the city were actually better from the 70th floor, because you could still see some detail. The top was so high you couldn’t make out what was on the ground.”
If the sight of the Burj isn’t awesome enough, the lifts will really take your breath away. They reach speeds of 40mph going up, but on the way down they travel more slowly so passengers aren’t sick.
Whatever its precise dimensions, the Burj breaks at least 15 world records.
These include the fact that it is the tallest structure ever built, the tallest man-made structure still standing, the tallest building with residential space, and has more floors than any other building
The Burj also has the world’s highest swimming pool (76th floor), highest observation deck (124th) and the most elevated place of worship – a mosque (158th). You can work, eat, sleep and party here. On the 108th floor are 900 residential apartments designed by Giorgio Armani, which have all been snapped up from between £660,000 and £11million.
Above these are 37 floors of office space. plus a restaurant, a gym on the 123rd floor and a nightclub on the 144th. You can even holiday here. The first eight floors house Armani’s first hotel which also boasts a spa, restaurants and a nightclub.
The breathtaking building is seen as the culmination of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s extravagant ambitions for the Gulf city where he is absolute ruler. It is also hoped the Burj will be a welcome boost for the cashstrapped emirate, which recently faced bankruptcy until a £10billion bail-out by neighbours Abu Dhabi. Its sheer scale posed many problems for the designers, Chicago-based architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
To stop the tower twisting in high winds, its hexagonal concrete core is mounted on three “wings” in a Y-shape, to spread the weight to the outer edges.
The superscraper’s height means there’s an eight degree difference in air temperature at the top. So if a door was ever opened at the top and at the bottom, as well as on all floors in between, a fearsome storm would rip storm would rip through the building. To prevent such a disaster a complex system of airlocks has been built in the lift shafts and stairwells.
But it’s a different type of storm those behind the Burj are most afraid of. Last year the economic downturn sent property prices in Dubai plunging.
Those people who bought apartments in the Burj may find their new homes are now worth far less than what they paid, while none of the tower’s 300,000 sq ft of office space is yet occupied. Only time will tell whether the Burj Dubai will be seen a triumph of man’s technological supremacy – or an irresponsible financial folly, taken to new heights.
The Burj Dubai in numbers
699 Number of years since the Arab world could claim theworld’s tallest building. In 1311, Lincoln Cathedral overtook the height of the Great Pyramid of Giza
300,000 Amount of square footage of office space available in the Burj Dubai tower – none of which has been occupied so far
Spire: The tower is designed to sway as much as six feet in the worst weather conditions
158th floor: A mosque, highest place of worship in the world
144th floor: Highest nightclub in the world.
124th floor: Highest single lift run in the world from ground floor to 1,654ft
76th floor: Outdoor swimming pool at 853ft is world’s highest
Floors 19-108: 900 studios and one to four-bedroom flats, and 114 apartments
First eight floors, and levels 38 and 39: Armani Hotel. Boasts 160 rooms and suites, a spa, two restaurants and a nightclub
28,261 the number of glass cladding panels on the tower’s exterior
3,000 the number of underground parking spaces giant
160 the number of luxury hotel rooms and suites
Asymmetrical giant tube locked together by hexagonal concrete core which stops the bulding twisting in high winds.