At first glance, this looks like a very cool and sustainable project. Conceived by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, Park Gate is a mixed-use development that showcases six curving towers with solar-powered canopies and a host of other green features. But in a city that has no freshwater supply and is already overburdened with vacant towers, does Dubai really need to develop yet another 4.7 million square feet? We think not.
Normally we love shipping container conversions. Done right, they can be transformed into beautiful VIP lounges, eco-hotels, and temporary housing. But if slapped together in a hot desert environment, they aren’t fit for human habitation. Already the government has to impose laws on contractors to stop working their employees when temperatures become unbearable, so it is unlikely they can be trusted to provide adequate housing. Despite a small air-conditioning unit on the side of each of them, these containers house up to 8 people each – a suffocating environment when the temperatures outside are pushing 120 degrees Fahreinheit and more. Dubai does everything in extremes. These shipping containers are just one more example of that.
We saved the best (or worst) for last! In case you had any doubt that Dubai often inspires maniacal ideas with no basis in reality, then perhaps you never heard of the Blue Crystal? A so-called “sustainable iceberg lodge,” it features giant ice sculptures that have to be kept frozen in higher than usual desert temperatures, along with an underwater lounge and ballroom. Frank and Sven Sauer, the designers, tried to convince the world that Blue Crystal would harness natural energy sources in order to maintain itself, and that it would recycle its energy, but we’re not buying it.