This Architectural Landmark is located in Za’abeel park in Dubai. It is the biggest picture frame in world with its two towers standing 150 meters high and linked by a 94 meter bridge. The project was an international competition won by Fernando Adonis where he conceptualized the project to link the old and new Dubai through an observation deck at the top, and by viewing the skylines of both sides of Dubai framed by the structure from a far.
Dubai Frame is made of reinforced concrete, glass and steel and the cladding around the frame is based on the logo of Dubai for the upcoming world expo on 2020. Dubai Frame is a 3 part museum showing the development of Dubai from past, present and future.
The bottom of the structure is where the past and future are and upon arrival at the lobby of the Frame, visitors will be lead to the Past exhibit where they can see the culture, architecture and traditions of Dubai. The End of the exhibit will be an elevator lobby where it will take the visitors to the viewing deck which is essentially the present exhibit.
At 150 meters above, the 94 meter bridge gives a panoramic view of both the Historic Bur Dubai or the old Dubai and Downtown Dubai where skyscrapers and Burj Khalifa are. The Bridge also has 1/3 of its flooring made out of double glass giving a heart stopping view below the bridge.
The end of the bridge is an elevator bringing the visitors down to the Future exhibit, a where a VTR is played showing the ongoing and future projects of Dubai.
Of course sometimes majestic projects are laced with controversies. Dubai Frame is one of the most controversial structures in the world with The Guardian even dubbing it as the biggest stolen building. In 2016, Adonis filed a copyright infringement against the Municipality of Dubai and ThyssenKrupp Elevator, claiming he never received either a contract or compensation for his design. He also says that a lot of his design was changed and one of those is the cladding where he originally proposed a plain white finish on the façade. Amidst the controversy Dubai Frame opened its doors last January 2018.
Dubai Frame can be reached easily by car or by Metro. The nearest Red Line stations to the Frame is Al Jafiliya and ADCD stations and then you can take a taxi to Za’abeel Park for 12 aed or walk. If you want nice view of the structure, you can view it from Za’abeel Park, entrance to the park is 5 aed and you can pay using your NOL card (smart card for various RTA transport modes in Dubai).
Entrance to Dubai Frame is at the gate 4 of the Park and it costs 60 aed. It’s best to go there in the mornings, lunch time and early afternoon to avoid long queue. Visitors are regulated and can only stay up to 30 minutes. Water and food are not allowed inside but you can deposit them in the baggage counter, big bags are also not allowed so be sure to travel lightly. Taking pictures in the Past and Future exhibits is not allowed, picture taking is only allowed inside the scenic elevators and in the bridge.
In terms of architecture, a bigger lobby would be preferred to hold the long queues. It is nice and concrete to the concept to have a complete frame form but the bottom part of the frame can be an exception because the part that really carries the concept and the design of the building are its towers and the bridge.
The structure initially seems to be too alien with its surroundings. It is situated in Zabeel district and high rise structures there are few, and majority of the buildings are low to mid rise but upon knowing the context of the building and also considering its visual lightness the structure gives a visual connection between the old and the new Dubai and rather than looking like a massive building, its lightness makes it look like a monument that celebrates the transition between the historic and new district especially if you look inside the frame.
With the upcoming World Expo on 2020 in Dubai, the architecture world will be very busy and the gates of Dubai will be opened. A controversy like that in Dubai Frame can affect tourism and the structure itself and we do hope that by then the controversy would have been resolved.