Friday, December 19, 2008

Portland masterplans retail space in 1km-tall Dubai tower

Portland Design is masterplanning the 70 000m2 retail area in Dubai's proposed 1km-tall Nakheel Tower (concept image pictured).

Property developer Nakheel, which is also responsible for Dubai's Palm Islands project, appointed the consultancy in July, six months after Portland approached the developer about the project.

Portland reports that in the build-up to the tower's completion in 2012, Nakheel will be seeking lighting and wayfinding designers, among other design specialists.

'We intend to compete for the wayfinding contract when that comes along', says Portland general manager, United Arab Emirates, Stephen Walsh, wondering at the 'challenge of lighting a 1km-high building'.

The tower is being designed by architect Woods Bagot, but the plan details remain a mystery, apparently to prevent other developers beating the tower's record-breaking scale.

Nevertheless, Portland reveals that the retail area will cover several levels in the base of the tower, the foundations for which are now complete. The building will feature several independent structures joining to create one.

Portland aims to differentiate the mall from the dozens of huge shopping centres in Dubai.

'We want to help create a neighbourhood for the wider community, and fully integrate landscaping and the public realm into the retail design. We also have to bear in mind, of course, that it will be a major tourist attraction,' says the group's creative head of developments, Markham Darbyshire.

Walsh would not reveal Portland's conclusions about the shape and size of the retail offer, but he describes the group's role on the project as 'looking at who the customers are, how much space can be supported by the customer base, how the space should be distributed across the site and how it should be allocated'.

Most of the mall's customers will be drawn from the new Nakheel Harbour development, which will include more than 19 000 residential apartments.

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