Emergent Urbanism

Rediscovering Urban Complexity

A demonstration of complexity in Dubai

Dubai's suburban development is often criticized for its poor taste and gigantism. While the products of Dubai megadevelopment are often crude, the engineering feats achieved in producing them are astonishing.

Recent pictures of the progress of the Burj Dubai tower, the tallest skyscraper ever built, demonstrate this contradiction in a single frame. The tower itself, while monstrously tall, is nothing very interesting. It consists of speculatively-stacked concrete floors waiting for someone to do something on them. But take a look at what is happening on the ground.

The construction site of the tower is enormous as well, but it appears perfectly adapted to its function. It has a flowing, natural geometry. It supports the work of thousands of people all laboring to stack concrete at the fastest possible pace, and the rise of the tower demonstrates that it does so remarkably well.

Was there a designer for the construction site? I doubt that strict plans were made for its layout, but it does have a layout and this layout has clearly visible structures. This layout comes from simple rules and the adaptations resulting from the application of those rules by thousands of people.


Nice reversal of perspective! Very neatly done.

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