The New Mega-Hotel in Dubai Is an Over-the-Top Ode to Geometry
This year, Atlantis the Royal is finally open to the public, bringing with it a host of modern amenities, including an infinity pool that stretches 90 feet in length.
There are few cities that better represent the future of design and hospitality than Dubai, where the sail-shaped Burj al-Arab hotel set the standard for architecturally significant stays back in 1999. Several equally impressive properties have opened in Dubai and its neighbor Abu Dhabi since then. There are few hotels as visually stunning as Atlantis the Royal on the Palm Island.
Located near the original Atlantis Dubai, which opened nearly 15 years ago, the 43-floor hotel opened last week directly overlooking the Persian Gulf. A series of geometric, angular boxes set on top of one another like futuristic Jenga structures makes up Atlantis the Royal Resort and Residences, which features over 800 guest rooms and some 231 private residences.
With its striking design and technological wizardry set against the shimmering turquoise sea, the hotel was designed by global architectural leaders Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF).
“Atlantis the Royal is about experiencing something you never imagined could be and the architecture sets this up masterfully,” Atlantis the Dubai's managing director Tim Kelly explains. There are “six towers joined together by a 90-foot infinity pool, redrawing the Dubai skyline and creating a new icon on the Palm.”
Having been responsible for both the old and new Atlantis, Kerzner International was almost bound to choose KPF. In addition to the Hudson Yards project in New York, KPF also designed six of the world's 12 tallest towers, including the Shanghai World Financial Center and the Lotte World Tower in Seoul, South Korea.
Additionally, the firm is responsible for aesthetically innovative hotels such as Shanghai's Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong's Rosewood Hong Kong and Bangkok's Rosewood Hotel.
The new Atlantis was all about grand ideas, according to KPF president and design principal James von Klemperer. “We were asked to dream big on this project. To create something unique and iconic for Dubai—and when I look at it now, I’m amazed by the audacity of the whole undertaking,” he says, “with its vertical piling up of outdoor experiences in the pools, outside spaces and remarkable design features.”
The new Atlantis is wholly new and original, but the design pays homage to its predecessor. Atlantis the Royal is a stack of individual blocks packed with distinctive amenities that take a thoroughly modern approach to classic sculptural towers.
There is a central skybridge nearly 300 feet long that connects six towers. The hotel's design aesthetic is enhanced with cutout openings within each block that add depth and intrigue while also illuminating the whole property.
As a result, Dubai has an instant landmark on its skyline that is as simple as it is memorable. Based on the classic arches and arcades of Roman aqueducts, Kerzner describes the design as a reimagining.
“The building doesn’t really have a front or a back, which is unusual, and this multi-directional aspect of the building is a special aspect of its design,” explains von Klemperer. “The way the structure acts as a sort of screen, which allows views to go both ways, could be seen to reference the screens of mosques and Islamic architecture.”
With a cost of $1.6 billion, the materials used in building Atlantis the Royal are impressive. A total of almost one million square feet of glass, about 1.6 million square feet of marble, and 7.8 million cubic feet of concrete were required to construct the 1,500-foot-long, 550-foot-tall hotel.
The resort's signature Sky Bridge makes use of a lot of these materials. This bridge serves as the property's visual anchor. It took some serious engineering acrobatics to move the nearly 4,000-foot bridge into position.
A team of eight hydraulic jacks lifted it into position at a rate of about 20 feet per hour during construction. In addition to restaurants, lounges, pools, and event spaces, the bridge is now fully operational.
As with the rest of the hotel, Von Klemperer describes the bridge “as a very entertaining place to go . . . but also a very serious piece of architecture.” A piece of architecture that is sure to become a landmark not only for Dubai, but for the entire Gulf region.