The Race to Build the World’s Tallest

Malaysia City
Published: 23 October 2008

Financial bailouts and credit protection from London to New York to Sydney. We have heard about what might be the worst global economic crisis for half a century.

But wait a minute.

In the midst of worldwide stock markets tumbling as if Isaac Newton’s gravitional ideas were in control, three nations in the Middle East are battling all out to build the future world’s tallest skyscrapers. It sounds like a comic book fantasy to me but when I first saw the architects’ plans posted in an online forum, I was stunned for a moment.

Dubai’s state-owned master developer, Nakheel first unveiled their masterpiece in Cityscape 2008, a global real estate exhibition three weeks ago. Days later, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Al-Waleed unveiled his $27 billion wonderland to be built near Jeddah’s international airport. Kuwait’s ongoing ‘City of Silk’ project was also reportedly going for the challenge.

Ironically now is the best time for many Western architects.

Against all odds, Dubai is expanding its economy by building more and more before its oil runs out in a few years time. All this comes at a great cost: Dubai’s international borrowings were extremely high, given such tight credit market today. 

Statistics showed that Dubai’s oil exports currently account less than 10% of its total revenues, and that tourism, trade and finance were far more important to its growing economy.

No matter how the world thinks about Dubai, Dubai believes in one vision, and it is this vision that inspires this emirate to greater achievements.

*** *** ***

Malaysia City takes a review of some iconic, mind-boggling projects unveiled recently:

Proposed Jumeirah Gardens is near Burj Dubai

Proposed Jumeirah Gardens is near Burj Dubai

1. Three closely bunched inter-connected mega-skyscrapers would shoot in the sky, connected by skybridges and grand arches.

Each tower will be at least 600m/2,000 feet, housing hotels, offices, shops and luxury condominiums. The tallest tower will be at least 850m/2,790 feet making it the second tallest in the world.

Proposed One Dubai, Jumeirah Gardens

Proposed One Dubai, Jumeirah Gardens

The mega-structure would have more than 13 million square feet, making it one of the world’s largest as well as tallest complexes. Besides that, a tower of light would knife into the sky between the buildings. Canal boats would glide underneath. This is One Dubai to be built at the newly proposed US$95 billion Jumeirah Gardens by Dubai-based developer Meraas.

One Dubai in perspective...

One Dubai in perspective...

2. One Park Avenue, another mixed-use tower in Jumeirah Gardens that would rise about 600m/2,000 feet, its undulating form evoking Dubai’s heritage of pearl trading. The project would contain more than 4 million square feet of offices, condominiums, apartments and hotel rooms. Excavation has begun.

Proposed One Park Avenue, Jumeirah Gardens

Proposed One Park Avenue, Jumeirah Gardens

3. Park Gate, which would consist of six midrise towers arranged in facing pairs, creating a shaded garden space (garden hanging at the top upside-down?) comparable to Middle Eastern markets. The mixed-use project would allow energy from one building to be shared with another. Quoting the developer’s statement, foundation work has begun.

4. Park Gate will further be complimented by Meraas Tower, a mixed-use skyscraper of about 550m/1,800 feet tall, combining hotel space, offices and living units.

Proposed Park Gate and Meraas Tower, Jumeirah Gardens

Proposed Park Gate and Meraas Tower, Jumeirah Gardens

5. The Atrium at Madinat Al Arab, Waterfront Dubai will rise as two arching towers, blending together at the 47th level as one to form a sculpted gateway, framing and maximising view to the Gulf and the City. The distinguished design captures the sophisticated essence of the international and dynamic city that is Dubai. Scheduled for completion in 2013, this project is the second by Gold Coast, Australia developer Sunland Group.

The Atrium Tower, Madinat Al Arab, a Waterfront Dubai precinct

The Atrium Tower, Madinat Al Arab, a Waterfront Dubai precinct

[Located on the western shores of Dubai , Waterfront Dubai will transform 1.4 billion square feet of empty desert and sea into an international community – for an estimated population of 1.5 million people – that is twice the size of Hong Kong Island. For more info, click here.]

Crazy? Not just yet.

6. The Anara Tower will stand next to the American University of Dubai, along Sheikh Zayed Road. When completed, the tower will be the third tallest building in the world with about 650m/2,150 feet in height.

Proposed Anara, Sheikh Zayed Road

Proposed Anara, Sheikh Zayed Road

The multi-use building will feature offices including the developer, Tameer’s own global headquarters, retail, a 250 room super-luxury hotel, 300 apartments, penthouses and even a major art gallery with a mixture of auctions and exhibitions of some of the world’s great art – something Dubai has lacked.

Anara is topped by a massive circular void with a huge glass pod in the middle aimed at being the ultimate high-rise restaurants in the world. The restaurant is supported by three legs as if they are blades of a wind turbine.

But this is Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, already home to numerous man-made wonders such as the artificial palm-shaped islands and the current world’s tallest structure, proclaimed even before it is due for completion next year.

The same developer for the Palm and The World islands three weeks ago made public for an even-taller, mixed-use skyscraper, one that that would rise to a height of more than 1,000m or 1km/3,281 feet — easily taller than two Sears Towers (or equivalently two Petronas Towers in Malaysia), or three Empire State Building stacked on end.

7. Nakheel Harbour & Tower will be the most ambitious urban project ever undertaken. It is a new city within the city of Dubai. The exact site for the proposed project is adjacent to Nakheel’s Discovery Gardens.

The man-made artificial inland harbour will be the first of its kind in the world. The masterpiece of the harbour will be the world’s tallest structure – Nakheel Tower – standing more than 1,000m/3,281 feet (the official planned height is a secret but a leaked report mentioned 1,440m or 4,600 feet above ground), and will be surrounded with another 40 towers ranging in height from 20 floors to 90 floors.

Proposed Nakheel Harbour & Nakheel Tower

Proposed Nakheel Harbour & Nakheel Tower

The Nakheel Tower itself is expected to take more than a decade to be built. The single structure is essentially made out of 4 individual towers connected with skybridges at every 25m – an engineering feat! The reason to this is to allow wind to flow through and thus putting a limit to the sway of the supertall tower during windstorms. When completed, it is expected to be home to more than 55,000 people and a work place for more than 45,000 people.

Some staggering facts and figures: 

– 4 towers interconnected – bisected glassy retail podium of 100,000 sqm connecting to a canal – projected 228 floors – 14,000 residential apartments – 14 luxury hotels (within a single building) offering 3,500 rooms – 150 high-speed lifts – 2 million m2 of space – the building will experience 5 different microclimatic conditions due to its height – due to the high-speed shuttle lifts one may be able to see the sunset twice from the bottom and again from the top of the building

A comparison of the tallest towers built (left) and under-construction (right)

A comparison of the tallest towers built (left) and under-construction (right)

8. Ziggurat was unveiled at the recent Cityscape Dubai. It is by far the “funkiest” project ever envisioned. Ziggurat is an environmentally sustainable futuristic city housed inside a pyramid. The city will be entirely self-sufficient in energetic terms and supported by a carbon neutral system producing zero carbon dioxide emissions.

Ziggurat - a sustainable concept under one roof

Ziggurat - a sustainable concept under one roof

The city will employ natural renewable energy resources of solar, wind and steam making it completely self-sustainable. A transport system with vertical and horizontal links connects all parts of the pyramid.

Ziggurat - the future is here

Ziggurat - the future is here

The ginormous pyramid will cover 2.3 square kilometers, will be able to sustain a “community” of up to 1 million and will have plenty of green spaces for recreation and agriculture.

9. Dubai City Tower (aka Dubai Vertical City) is a “visionized” proposal (recent proposal) for a 400-storey skyscraper of 2.4km/1.5 miles in height, almost twice the height of Nakheel Tower mentioned above. No official details are out yet so it remains a mystery.

Dubai City Tower is as good as a vision

Dubai City Tower is as good as a vision

In the past, there has been some futuristic mile-high proposals such as Tokyo’s X-Seed 4000 and Millenium Tower, but none are as real as the above.

Elsewhere in the region, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait is giving Dubai a run for the world’s tallest building title.

10. Kingdom City Tower is a masterminded project of Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. He was quoted as saying he will build the world’s tallest building in the Saudi city of Jeddah. The building will be more than a kilometer high (1,000m/3,281 ft) high and will be part of a larger urban project that will cost 100 billion Saudi riyals (US$26.7 billion).

Kingdom City was announced shortly after Nakheel Harbour

Kingdom City was announced shortly after Nakheel Harbour

The tower itself will span 23 million square meters (248 million square feet) and will include luxury homes, hotels and offices.

11. The City of Silk is a US$132 billion urban development located 120km from Kuwait City. It is inspired by the historical trade route of Silk Road between Asia and Europe. The new city is hoped to create a new sustainable metropolis that will be home to an estimated one million people. The project also aims to reduce Kuwait’s dependence on revenues from oil.

The City of Silk is Kuwaits vision

The City of Silk is Kuwait's vision

The centre-piece of this city will be Burj Mubarak al-Kabir, a 1,001m tall tower, almost 200 metres taller than the Burj Dubai and twice the height of Taipei 101. Its height is a reference to the classic work of Arabic literature, The One Thousand and One Nights.

The architects have said that three blades will be built near the top of the tower, that will carry a mosque, a church and a synagogue to signify the unity of the three monotheistic religions.

The project also includes the contruction of several artificial islands, a 26km highway, Olympic facilities and an education hub. 

Closer to home, Shanghai has also announced a new supertall that would succeed the recently completed tallest building in China, the Shanghai World Financial Centre. 

12. Shanghai Center is a proposed development adjacent to SWFC and Jin Mao in Pudong district.  The tower will host 9 indoor gardens and a public park. Construction is expected to start pretty soon and scheduled to be completed in 2013, unfortunately after the World Expo in 2010. 

The winning bid for Chinas upcoming tallest tower

The winning bid for China's upcoming tallest tower




References: Skyscrapercity World and UAE; AME Info; The National UAE; Gulf News; Nakheel LLP; Nakheel Harbour & Tower; Meraas Development; Tatweer; Timelinks; CNN; Chicago Tribune; Gensler; Wikipedia

KL Utopia 2057

Sorry guys…. for the lack of updates. Patchay, the author of this blog, will be having exams very soon!

Anyway lately, an architecture firm called Veritas was invited by “The Sun” newspaper to design a utopian version on what the Kuala Lumpur skyline might look like in 50 years time – Year 2057.

How Kuala Lumpur will look like in 2057???

Take a closer look below and be impressed!

KL Utopia

Source: Veritas Architects 


Very futuristic indeed. Very “visionary”. Public transport such as train systems hoyering at 100m high-up, floating sky gardens, green parks along a gigantic Great Lake, iconic twisting-looking glassy skyscrapers, a gigantic bubble steel-web preserving the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, hundreds of tall buildings making the city very dense!

EcoCity Mid Valley

NSTP 28 August ’07 – After almost seven years, SP Setia Bhd, Malaysia’s most valuable developer, has reinforced its determination to secure more prime land in Kuala Lumpur.It has agreed on a preliminary pact with Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) to help it deal with squatters on the land located within the Kampung Haji Abdullah Hukum area opposite the Mid Valley Megamall.And it has even offered compensation for the 600 families who reside there.

It now stands a better chance of buying and developing the land, estimated at some RM300 million, analysts said.

The 10.8ha freehold site is intended for a residential-cum-commercial job.

This is indeed a VERY GOOD NEWS for KL urbanites!


A comprehensive masterplan has been drawn up for the area and WOW… a new City will be born soon. Yes no kidding!

EcoCity Mid Valley (2)

Upon successful acquisition of the land (Abdullah Hukum), SP Setia plans to build an integrated residential-cum-commercial complex, just like the present Mid Valley City across the river.

EcoCity Mid Valley (1)

Abdullah Hukum might be renamed as EcoCity Mid Valley.

The plan looks soo cool! The residential blocks look like a pistol and the entire city is complemented by greens at every corner. Plan includes a 70-storey high-rise that could be higher than Menara TM. 

EcoCity Mid Valley (3) 

This is EcoCity Mid Valley. You can never imagine it!

[Renderings courtesy of ArchiCentre Malaysia]

Penang Global City Centre (Updated)

After Iskandar Development Region (IDR) in southern Johor, now there is Penang Global City Centre, part of the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) blueprint which was launched on Monday (the first package).

Some RM20 billion worth of properties were planned over 15 years to redevelop the Penang Turf Club site in George Town.

PGCC, envisioned to be one of the world’s first zero-carbon city, will be modelled along the lines of the Kuala Lumpur City Centre.

To be developed by Equine Capital (indirect shareholding), the PGCC will be one of five high-impact projects for Penang State under the NCER.

 The first proposal of PGCC by Asymptote

The initial proposal by Asymptote, called Mutiara Complex Penang, now known as Penang Global City Centre.  

PGCC will be designed by Hani Rashid from Asymptote Architecture in New York and Nasrine Seraji from Atelier Seraji in Paris. The new design will be unveiled in September.

The eco-city development is expected to include a 10.4ha public park, two five-star hotels, a performing arts centre, retail outlets, two iconic office towers, residential properties and a world-class convention centre.

Asymptote 2005 Masterplan for Penang

Asymptote’s 2005 Masterplan for Penang 

Once the eco-city is completed, an estimated 20,000 people will be working there.

Posted in ncer, pgcc, urbania. Tags: . 19 Comments »