Dubai – Dubai Frame

Among the modern architecture of Dubai, the Dubai Frame is one of the most unique and strangest example of a building with no real practice purpose.

  1. The Design
  2. The Exhibition
  3. The Frame
  4. The Glass Bridge
  5. The Architecture

The Design

Rising 150 meters from Dubai’s Zabeel Park, the Guinness -certified “World’s Largest Picture Frame” officially opened in Jan 2018. Known as the Dubai Frame, the structure is the latest in the city’s line of eye-catching megaprojects, offering up panoramic views of the skyline while framing views of iconic buildings such as the Burj Khalifa for visitors and residents all across the city.

This intriguing structure came into existence as a result of a design competition held by the Government of Dubai. The brief to designers was to create an emblem that promoted the new face of Dubai. Of the 926 entries received, Spanish architect Fernando Donis’ design was adjudged the best and was awarded the 2009 ThyssenKrupp Elevator International Award along with the prize money of US$100,000.

Dubai Frame “framing” the modern emblems of Dubai

In designing the Dubai Frame, Donis reasoned that since Dubai was full of emblems, adding another one did not make much sense. So, he came up with the idea of framing all the Dubai emblems in a giant frame

Standing at 150 metres high and 93 metres wide, the structure is made up of 2,000 tonnes of steel and 2,900 metres of laminated glass. It also features more than 15,000 square metres of gold-coloured stainless steel. The Frame opened in January 2018.

The Exhibition

Once you enter the Frame, there is an exhibition on the first floor that showcases the past of Dubai as it was decades ago. The miracle of Dubai was partly due to the discovery of oil as well as the vision of Sheikh Rashid bin Said Al Maktoum, one of the seven founding fathers of United Arab Emirates.

This small exhibition was a display of the old trades of Dubai before the discovery of oil. It was rather static display with replicas of the things from years gone by and multimedia projections using videos. They were specially shot for the exhibition using actors, so there was no museum feel to the whole place.

Dubai Ports play a big part in the story of Dubai. Starting with the dhows that ply their trades along the Dubai Creek, to modern day container ports at Port Jebeel Ali, Dubai has always been the trading port between India and northern part of Middle East.

After you take a tour through Old Dubai, you will get to ride the express lift, that will take only 47 seconds to reach the Sky Deck, which represents Present Dubai. Here you will get to experience a 360-degree uninterrupted view of both Old and New Dubai.

Going up the elevator
Going down the elevator

It is interesting to note that the Dubai Frame has only two levels. One elevator of the left side takes you up the frame, and one on the other side brings you down.

The Frame

Designed to represent a metaphorical connection between old and new Dubai, this is the largest picture frame in the world. At a “modest” cost of $43.60 million, it is a symbol of the city’s rapid rise from modest settlement to gleaming metropolis, giving visitors a panoramic view of the boundary-pushing skyscrapers from the coast of the Persian Gulf.

Completed only nearly a decade after it was first proposed, visitors can now ascend the structure to its 93m-long viewing bridge, which features a glass-floored walkways and full-height views out to the old city of Deira to the north and the skyscrapers of Sheikh Zayed Road toward the south.

Old Dubai is not that old, this was part of the first development plan for Dubai along Dubai Creek. From this view, you can see the low-rise development in Al Karma and the first high-rise in the Deira district.

You also get to see the side of New Dubai which features views of the towering skyscrapers of the iconic Burj Khalifa in Downtown and the entire skyline of the city.

In the vicinity are the Grand Zabeel Mosque (L) and the Zabeel Palace (R) where the current Sheikh resides. The Grand Zabeel Mosque is one of the beautiful Mosques in Dubai. The Mosque building contains fine, beautiful, and elaborated Islamic Motives. Zabeel Palace is the home of Sheikh Rashid, UAE’s former prime minister. It is constructed in the Zabeel area, which was formerly just bare land covered with sand.

The Glass Bridge

Once on the Sky Deck, you get to walk over the famous transparent glass floor. The bridge was initially set to be completely made out of glass but, after careful consideration, it was decided to install a 25 square metre glass panel in the middle of it instead.

Dubai Frame glass corridor

The glass is pressure sensitive frosted glass. This technology will switch the glass from an opaque translucent to a transparent state when you step on it. When the power is off the liquid crystal molecules are randomly oriented and will scatter incidental light; this renders the glass panel opaque. When you step on it, an electric current is applied and the liquid crystal molecules line up; the incidental light passes through, and the privacy glass becomes clear.

After visiting the Sky Deck, a neon ‘vortex’ tunnel will then usher visitors into an interactive, augmented reality exhibition on the history and future of the city. 

The Architecture

The Dubai Frame is created out of glass, steel, aluminum, and reinforced concrete with designs of the logo of Expo 2020 embedded on the outer facade

The design principle behind the Dubai Frame is the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio is a mathematical ratio you can find almost anywhere, like nature, architecture, painting, and music. When specifically applied to design specifically, it creates an organic, balanced, and aesthetically pleasing composition.

Without a doubt, the Dubai Frame has become one of the biggest attractions of Dubai and a head-turner whenever we go past it. Like the Museum of the Future, this architecture marvel does not wow in content, but the audacity to build it warrants a visit.

Visited Nov 2022

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