We speak to Elie Gamburg from the award-winning KPF Associates on creating Dubai's next architectural marvel
Words by Aneesha Rai in Portfolio · Sep. 12th, 2021
In this edition of the ‘Open House’, we take another deep dive into the making of Atlantis The Royal Residences from an architect’s perspective with Elie Gamburg, Senior Architect and Director at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. Due for completion soon, Elie talks about the firm’s design approach in translating a vision of an iconic living experience into a show stopping design.
Elie: Our aim was to build an iconic hotel not only in Dubai, but the world. In a place like Dubai, which is home to so many architectural marvels, our differentiating factor was designing the ultimate and iconic living experience in mind. By placing value on the design of the ultimate living experience and given the project’s idyllic location with the Gulf and Palm lagoon views, we wanted to harness the right romantic image where the sea meets the sky.
We wanted to introduce the concept of bringing living in a modernist villa in a vertical format - in harmony with indoor-outdoor living. At the same time, we focused on building an energy efficient building, taking examples from Arab architecture, and interpreting it in an abstract way. With this in mind, we created a structure where the conventional double-loaded blocks of the construction were pulled apart like a screen to introduce a series of indoor/ outdoor spaces that you would not conventionally find in an apartment building. This design enabled us to create pools, gardens, decks, and courtyards. The building is oriented in a way to maximize breeze and created deep overhangs in front of openings to create shade for the courtyards. The pool is just not a body of water, but adds to the micro-climate, thus extending the time that can be spent outdoors for up to 8 to 10 months during the year as opposed to just the more pleasant 3 to 4 months. The smallest detail to attention has been paid, using the most advanced digital tools. The pools are all at a level where you can enjoy the skyline views when you swim. There are a variety of different lifestyles that can be accommodated, whether you want the residence to be a pied-a-terre or your primary residence.
With a nod to the region’s cultural history and innovations, we involved a lot of stone, metal, and terracotta. We wanted a tactile experience for the guests that was also visually interesting. We also wanted to avoid pastiche and the typical use of just glass and metal. The views from the glass at Atlantis The Royal is the clearest views you can get because we have used clear glass. Due to the orientation and shape of the building, you are fully shaded from the sun and so the treatment of the glass was not needed. This was also better from a sustainability point of view. Among the challenges that we managed was handling the placement of the 60m central arch bridge was hoisted up and put in place.
Overall, it’s a very rational building. The S-shape helps harness the wind and orients the views based on its location on the Palm Jumeirah – the east facing units face the Downtown Dubai skyline, whereas the west-facing units face the Dubai Marina skyline. There are also up to four residential apartments on each floor, creating a sense of exclusivity along with a bespoke set of different types of apartments to accommodate various lifestyles. We’re proud of the innovation that has developed between us, Kerzner and ICD through dialogue to deliver a resort with an urban experience complete with spaces for shops and restaurants. There is a contemporary lightness throughout the project, and we worked hard to retain that rigor. I personally cannot wait to see people living there and interacting with the space!