Luxury Real Estate of The Future

Our sister blog, Immo-Luxus, Germany picked up on an interesting proposed building in Paris, which prompted me to take a look at some planned luxury real estate around the world. Some of these, thank goodness, will never end up being built, but some of them are already under construction.

Le Projet Triangle by Hertzog & de Meuron

Oh deary me, I am not liking this one little bit. After the amount of negative reaction to the pyramid outside the Louvre, I am rather surprised H&M are proposing another glass triangle in the center of Paris. According to their proposal:

“Le Projet Triangle” is primarily perceived on the metropolitan scale of the city of Paris. Its elevated stature will lend major visibility to the Porte de Versailles and the Parc des Expositions site within the overall conurbation. It will also permit its integration in the system of axes and perspectives that constitute the urban fabric of Paris.

Le Projet Triangle, Paris

Le Projet Triangle, Paris

Major visibility about sums it up. They are also suggesting that the triangular shape will prevent it from casting shadows over the surrounding areas. Quite how they are proposing to bend the laws of physics to make this happen is beyond me. My favorite comment on this so far is, “As a Parisian I’m sick and tired of living in a city that looks like Disneyland.”

Unobtrusive - Not

Unobtrusive – Not

Crystal Island, by Foster & Partners, Moscow

Crystal Island Moscow

Crystal Island Moscow

Glass Pyramids seem to be the way many forward looking designers see the luxury real estate of the future. This design by Foster and Partners was presented to the people of Moscow and the Architectural council back in 2007. Preliminary planning approval has already been given, although I do wonder if there will be any cash left in the kitty after the Russian government has finished bailing out the state-owned banks. And one of the main reasons I can see for permission being given, is that it is bigger than anything else. Although, at a paltry 450 meters in height, Dubai will have them beat for a long time. Many more after the jump.

Can we out-Dubai, Dubai?

Gentlemen – can we out-Dubai, Dubai?

According to the architect, Norman Foster,

Crystal Island is one of the world’s most ambitious building projects and it represents a milestone in the 40 year history of the practice. It is the largest single building in the world, creating a year-round destination for Moscow and a sustainable, dynamic new urban quarter. It is a paradigm of compact, mixed-use, sustainable city planning, with an innovative energy strategy and ‘smart’ skin which buffers against climate extremes.

I have yet to ascertain the meaning of the word “sustainable,” and am immediately suspicious of any developer using the word. My best guess as to the meaning is – “It won’t fall over.” :-D

Many of these latest visions of the future are also mixed-use, which I rather think they have no choice but to do. Let’s face it – if you are on the 600th floor of the Burj Dubai, it is a long way down to the street for a tube of toothpaste. This one in Moscow has plans for 3,000 hotel rooms and 900 serviced apartments along with retail and entertainment spaces.

Russia Tower

Foster & Partners, “Russia Tower” is already under construction in Moscow, and according to the architects, “will be the tallest naturally ventilated tower in the world and one of the greenest new buildings in Europe.”

At 600 meters, it will be, for a short while at least, the second tallest building in the world, and the tallest in Europe. Although, I am beginning to wonder if Mr. Foster has some sort of monopoly arranged in Eastern Europe. 8-)

Russia Tower

Russia Tower

The Burj Dubai, by Skidmore, Owings & Merril, Dubai

Computer rendition of Burj Dubai

Computer rendition of Burj Dubai

One cannot really look at the future of luxury real estate without including the mega-projects in Dubai. Whilst I am not certain my definition of luxury real estate includes living in a glass box 800 meters off the ground with 50,000 other people, there is no denying this is an impressive engineering feat. Unlike the triangle and crystal island, this one is actually under construction and has already overtaken the record for the tallest building in the world. Other records surpassed along the way are the building with the most floors and the vertical concrete pumping record at 452 meters, and at over 688 meters, is also the tallest man-made structure ever built. Except perhaps for the tower of Babel – depending who you ask. Unlike many computer renditions, the Burj Dubai actually looks like it was intended to, and already dominates the Dubai skyline.

Burj Dubai at dawn

Burj Dubai at dawn

Although the Burj Dubai is getting all the press attention, there are a number of other mega-tower projects such as the Dubai towers at The lagoons, a four tower project designed to emulate candlelight – construction has already begun.

Dubai Towers, The Lagoons

Dubai Towers, The Lagoons

Plus a number of “unusual” designs – This is the ep-07 tower by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill. Whether it gets off the ground or not is as yet undecided.

ep-07 Tower

ep-07 Tower

Speaking of getting off the ground, it seems that building the tallest building in the world is not enough for the Dubai government. Plans are now afoot for a kilometer-high tower.Or at least it will be “more than a kilometer” tall – the proposed height is still a secret.

More than a kilometer tall tower

More than a kilometer tall tower in Dubai

Not to be outdone, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia also announced a “more than kilometer high” tower to be built in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia just one week later, although his little model seems a little on the short side. The plans for a mile-high tower in Jeddah were announced back in March, so this one seems a bit redundant.

Mile High Tower in Jeddah

Mile High Tower in Jeddah

Kilometer Tall Tower in Jeddah

Kilometer Tall Tower in Jeddah

Of course, these pathetic attempts at building a tall building pale in comparison to the Dubai City Tower. 2.4 kilometers tall!

Dubai City Tower

Dubai City Tower

Apparently, three designs have been drawn up for the Jumeirah City project, one of which is the Dubai City Tower. Six separate buildings twisting themselves into a one and a half mile high skyscraper. Now, I am no engineer but I would have thought there are some practical difficulties to overcome, and according to Alastair Collins, of the International Council on Tall Buildings, building to that height is the “easy” part – “The hardest part is the servicing of the height: the transportation, power, water and waste disposal.”

Transportation issues will apparently be solved by a vertical bullet train. I have trouble making myself enter a standard elevator sometimes. Imagine a one-and-a-half mile tall,  125 mph elevator. I can feel the panic attack starting already…………..

One of the discussion themes for this year’s World Architecture Festival in Barcelona is “possibility and responsibility,” with regard to tall buildings. Certainly some of these stretch the boundaries of both. Rather surprisingly, only one of these mega-talls is on the list for discussion. I am certainly looking forward to reading their conclusions. The festival takes place 22-24 October.

“Down to Earth,” Luxury Real Estate

Not all luxury real estate developers and architects see mile high glass edifices as their vision of the future and my feelings are that we will start to see a shift in styles away from enormous, wasteful spaces towards more environmentally-friendly building styles that attempt to blend the natural with the artificial. Whether the current financial situation is resolved or not,I am reasonably sure the McMansion has had its heyday.

Symbiotic Villa by Zaha Hadid

These images are taken of a house designed by Zaha Hadid for the up-coming Next-Gene 20 project in Taiwan.

Symbiotic Villa

Symbiotic Villa

This is a small development in Switzerland, created by Peter Vetsch. And you don’t get more down to earth than these – nine houses on a 4,000 square meter plot all partially underground. Mr. Vetsch certainly has some interesting ideas and uses innovative building materials.

Earth House Estate Lättenstrasse

Earth House Estate Lättenstrasse

Mr. Vetsch has been building homes with these designs for some time now, an this is a selection of some of his other works. He has a large selection of “Earth Houses” on his website. Perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but interesting nonetheless.

Another continuing trend is the conversion of non-residential buildings into living spaces. Much of London’s and other city’s docklands were once warehouses and have now been converted to trendy apartments. If the credit squeeze continues we will se more of this type of building converted. An interesting renovation recently was the “Church of living,” by ZECC architects in Holland. A Dutch chapel was converted to a house, and the architects chose to retain may of the original features, including, bizarrely, the organ. A little too stark for my tastes, but the conversion is a finalist for a Dutch Design Award.

Church of the Living

Church of the Living

It is certainly refreshing to know that not all future luxury real estate will be in an enormous glass tower :)

Links and photo credits:

Comments (48)

  1. Very futuristic looking pictures.

    Fahrens last blog post..Monaco tennis tournament final 2008

  2. I like the furniture.

  3. Amazing, the one with lasers (russia tower) looks fantastic

    Webs last blog post..Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer

  4. I vote more earth houses and less mile-high buildings…what a waste of money and resources.

  5. You know, building these towers so tall really freaks me out. I’m sorry, but the higher they’re built, the harder they’ll fall… I really like the Crystal Tower design because of this. But… yeah.

  6. Jennifer and Megan – I think you would have a tough time persuading me to go up a one and a half mile tall building. Some of these are certainly extreme, although there are some interesting new building techniques that are coming on the market. I am researching another post covering the various “sustainable” buildings – watch this space :)

  7. These building is amazing . I have first time seen it

    Hira Kumar Maharjans last blog post..Trekking

  8. i love these buildings

  9. unbelievable. Not sure if I believe some of those.

  10. This is great… I will be living in my Glass Condo on the 300th Floor smoking my Electronic Cigarette, and drinking my SOY latte

  11. I would be very very very concerned about buying in the Middle East (Dubai… UAE, Saudi Arabia and places similar) I wouldn’t visit or purchase anywhere in which people are treated poorly by their government. It’s like South Africa, they use to treat blacks terrible there, I wouldn’t visit, but would today because things have changed, look at many Arab countries where women can be put in PRISON for LIFE for going out without a male relative at their side. OR death sentences for Gay people. Yeah, many don’t care unless it personally effects them, but I refuse to go anywhere in which they treat the people so badly. And if I feel this way… and news gets out about the treatment of their people… watch any investments fail. Would you purchase a property in Afghanistan? Of course not, but people once did!!! If people cared more about their fellow man, this world would be a better place. Yeah, Dubai looks awesome, but isn’t it selfish to enjoy such, when you’re fully aware of their human rights issues. I REFUSE to support such behavior and until Dubai changes their ways… and other places, I will not travel or consider a purchase.

  12. Human rights in Dubai are based on a legal framework that provides for the equitable treatment of people, regardless of race, nationality or social status, per Article 25 of the Constitution of the United Arab Emirates. However, many of the 250,000 foreign labourers in the city live in conditions described by Human Rights Watch as being “less than human.”

    NPR reports that workers “typically live eight to a room, sending home a portion of their salary to their families, whom they don’t see for years at a time.” The BBC has reported that “local newspapers often carry stories of construction workers allegedly not being paid for months on end. They are not allowed to move jobs and if they leave the country to go home they will almost certainly lose the money they say they are owed.”[5] Additionally, most of the workers are forced to give up their passports upon entering Dubai, making it very difficult to return home. In September 2005, the Minister of Labour ordered one company to pay unpaid salaries within 24 hours after workers protested, and published the name of the offending company.[6]

    In December 2005, the Indian consulate in Dubai submitted a report to the Government of India detailing labor problems faced by Indian expatriates in the emirate. The report highlighted delayed payment of wages, substitution of employment contracts, premature termination of services and excessive working hours as being some of the challenges faced by Indian workers in the city. On 21 March 2006, workers at the construction site of Burj Dubai, upset over bus timings and working conditions, rioted: damaging cars, offices, computers, and construction tools.[7][8][9]

    The city’s discriminatory legal system and unequal treatment of foreigners has been brought to light by its alleged attempts to cover up information on the rape of Alexandre Robert, a 15 year old French-Swiss national, by three locals, one of whose HIV-positive status was hidden by the authorities for several months [10] and by the recent mass imprisonment of migrant laborers, most of whom were from India, on account of their protests against poor wages and living conditions.[11]

    The alleged labour injustices in Dubai have attracted the attention of various Human Rights groups, which have tried to persuade the government to become a signatory to two of the International Labour Organization’s 7 core conventions, which allows for the formation of labour unions. The Dubai government has denied any kind of labour injustices and has stated that the watchdog’s (Human Rights Watch) accusations were misguided [12]. Towards the end of March 2006, the government announced steps to allow construction unions. UAE labour minister Ali al-Kaabi said: “Labourers will be allowed to form unions.”

    Prostitution, though illegal by law, is conspicuously present in the emirate because of an economy that is largely based on tourism and trade. Research conducted by the American Center for International Policy Studies (AMCIPS) found that women from the former USSR and Ethiopian women are the most common prostitutes, as well as women from some African countries, while Indian prostitutes are part of a well organized trans-Oceanic prostitution network.[13] A 2007 PBS documentary entitled Dubai: Night Secrets reported that prostitution in clubs is tolerated by authorities and many foreign women work there without being coerced, attracted by the money.

    Drugs found in urine or blood testing count as “possession” under UAE law. BBC DJ Grooverider (real name: Raymond Bingham) was sentenced to four years in prison after a pair of jeans in his luggage was found to contain just over 2 grams of marijuana.[19] The Dubai authorities have been known to stop tourists on layovers the airport and are now using extremely sensitive electronic detection equipment, including urine and blood screening, to search for traces of illegal substances. Keith Brown, a British national and father of three, was arrested on September 17, 2007 after authorities claim to have discovered a speck of cannabis on the bottom of one of his shoes. According to an article in the Daily Mail,[20] the alleged illegal substance was smaller than a grain of sugar – weighing approximately .003 grams. He has also been sentenced to four years in prison. Another UK citizen, Tracy Wilkinson, was arrested and accused of being a “drugs baroness” in 2005 after authorities found codeine in her blood.[21] Wilkinson has a bad back and received an injection of codeine at a Dubai hospital. She ended up spending two months in a cell where she contracted dysentery, head lice and an infestation of fleas before she was eventually released on bail. German television producer Cat Le-Huy was arrested in January 2008 for possessing a bottle of the over-the-counter hormone sleep aid Melatonin.[22] Authorities claimed that some dirt in Mr. Le-Huy’s luggage was hashish. A Vancouver resident named Bert Tatham was arrested at Dubai International Airport returning home from Afghanistan (where he was ironically working with farmers to try and convince them not to grow poppies). The anti-narcotics officer was found to have two dead poppy bulbs and a tiny amount of hashish melted into the seams of one of his trouser pockets.[23] After spending more than 10 months in prison, he was eventually pardoned by U.A.E. President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

  13. I am inclined to agree with you. The situation is going from bad to worse I’m afraid:

  14. Wow! wild pictures for the future.

  15. waah, the arabs really don’t know what to do with their extra cash

  16. The Crystal Island Moscow building looks amazing. What a showstopper.

  17. woow, awesome pictures of some very cool buildings.

  18. I agree with you. I would not under any circumstances buy anything or visit these countries where women can be disposed off like assets and how they treat gay people. In my travels with the merchant marine I have it all and my last time when I was in South Africa was in 1971 it was a disgrace how the blacks were treated and I refused to spend a dime there.

  19. Those all look like great places to live.

  20. I agree with you. I would not under any circumstances buy anything or visit these countries where women can be disposed off like assets and how they treat gay people. In my travels with the merchant marine I have it all and my last time when I was in South Africa was in 1971 it was a disgrace how the blacks were treated and I refused to spend a dime there.

  21. merchant marine I have it all and my last time when I was in South Africa was in 1971 it was a disgrace how the blacks were treated and I refused to spend a dime there.

  22. some of these designs don’t seem realistic enough. The best of all is the already completed Burj Dubai. 173 floors is no joke.

  23. See today the towers of tomorrow. I love it.

  24. That a really great photos. Bombastic!

  25. The Crystal Island is amazing. Its not overly futuristic and unreal looking. Its very new and classy but not cheesy. Wish they made this.

  26. Hmm…whose money? Whose resources?

    I imagine that people were complaining about nearly every other new invention, technique, procedure, building, etc; but eventually they used and benefited from such new creations.

    This is what it means to be human. We truly are the creators of our world. Reality does not provide us with automatic survival. If we want to exist we have to conquer nature; otherwise, people will conquer other people.

    I don’t know too much about the places some of these buildings are being built; so it may be that these buildings will be built by slave labor. Hopefully, they are built by free men and women because this would truly make these buildings a monument to humankind’s potential.

    If you want to see what it’s like living in real earth houses just visit the jungles. On the other hand, you can appreciate that the higher the building or the further away we get from living “hand-to-mouth” (i.e. hunting and gathering), the longer, better lives possible.

  27. Well swank – most of these have now been canceled – but – yes – they would have been built by slave labor, particularly those in Dubai.

  28. Wow, that is some crazy architecture, who designs those things? Very cool.

  29. The technology that progress in a matter of a decade is just mind-boggling…the empire state building used to be a modern marvel, but not enginneers are aiming for mile high buildings…there seems to be no end.

  30. Wow, what crazy ideas. really great

  31. jack adams says:

    hello all , i see u all attacking arab country’s , but i wanna tell something i lived in UAE for 4years and what i saw in this country very impressive treatment sooo kind people so smart polite people and if we talk about bad ppl sure we see all of them around the world , so maybe u didn’t visit this country or didn’t treat those people so u said that , but if u treat them u will see like them and respect them , and about the slave labor i don’t think so cos it’s not real in this country ,, so plz don’t speak too much about people u don’t know any thing about them until u treat them :)

  32. Great buildings, really good work.

  33. you are not right kevin have you been to uae or dubai because they are 1 and people there leave very very very good most of them are milionares because of the petrol and about soudi arab yes they leave poor and they treated like crap but they dont have money its like india :D any way most of those buldings woln’t become reality because of the crysis i am talking only for those in dubai and further of all only 2 of their projekts are finished the others arent eaven started most of em are cancelled

  34. That are very futuristic buildings and ideas – amazing – will they ever become reality ?

  35. I admire King Abdulaziz and others that are making out. It is really difficult to make people understand the concept of whatever is new and unpublished. I wish Sir Arthur C. Clark was alive to see this moment.
    I myself am trying to build a taller building here and am finding the most ridiculous people saying the most ridiculous critics about my projects but things are going slow and steady.

  36. Great photos with wonderful buildings. They look very good.

  37. lots of projects i have seen first time, but i also heard that U.A.E is now working on mega project called Kingdom Tower but i actually have no idea how tall is that building, and also Kingdom is taller then Burj khalifa. well this race is never going to be end, year after year every country is working on mega projects.


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