Al Fresco Living, High in the Sky

Living high above the world provides a sense of space and freedom - and a large terrace greatly enhances the appeal of a high-rise home

16 Mar 2014 words by Anne Martin in Portfolio

While the UAE has vast areas of land on which to build homes - making villas with gardens the default style of living - it's no surprise that it has also gone upwards, with sleek high-rises punctuating the skyline in both Abu dhabi and Dubai. For many people, nothing can match living high in the sky. The sublime views are not the only attraction; the best buildings provide superb amenities such as pools, gyms and in-house spas, not to mention 24-hour concierge and valet services. High on convenience and security, low on maintenance, they are ideally suited to a busy, frequent-flying way of life.

But what has really brought high-rise living into its own is the way in which architects are thinking outside the (glass) box, turning apartments from merely functional spaces into real homes. Given that high-rise penthouses should be designed to work for their residents in the same way that a home on the ground would, a large terrace is the answer. Not only does it add that singularly attractive feature of every villa - outdoor living space - but it comes with the wow-factor of views that no villa could ever aspire to.

From the terrace and balconies of this elegant 4-bedroom penthouse, the view is mesmerising: Burj Khalifa directly ahead and the Dubai Fountains below.
From the terrace and balconies of this elegant 4-bedroom penthouse, the view is mesmerising: Burj Khalifa directly ahead and the Dubai Fountains below.

Here in the UAE, without the restrictions imposed by older, more crowded cities, architects have tremendous scope and those who have taken advantage of it, design open-air spaces that can be used as a seamless extension of the indoor areas whenever the weather permits. Some have even installed private pools, just as they would on terra firma. Of course, the UAE has another advantage: for eight months of the year the climate is perfect for al fresco living and entertaining.

A terrace should be treated like another room, not an afterthought. There are countless ways to create warmth and atmosphere - and well-chosen materials, furnishing and plants make the terrace a beautiful asset to look out onto even during those boiling hot months when you have to stay closed indoors. Interestingly, many still opt for city views rather than sea views because at night these vistas become exciting and dynamic. Ultimately, a terrace helps to turn an apartment into a place that its owner can really commit to as they would a traditional house. And that has a value that money can't buy. 

Exceptionally rare, this apartment in Burj Khalifa has its own private terrace.
Exceptionally rare, this apartment in Burj Khalifa has its own private terrace.


More: Outdoors