Downtown Circle Project: Vertical City to Encircle the Burj Khalifa


Architecture firm, ZNera Space, has released designs of their Downtown Circle project—a 550-meter-tall ring structure surrounding the Burj Khalifa.

The Downtown Circle project is a proposal recently put forward by ZNera Space, an experimental architecture firm which prides itself on creating places that offer special spatial experiences.

It released the ground-breaking design on social media, with captivating renderings produced in collaboration with visuals expert, Pictown.

Encircling the Burj Khalifa, Downtown Circle is an elevated mega-building complex consisting of five stories.

The 550-metre-tall ring is set to be a mixed-use facility made up of houses and public and commercial blocks, and would encompass all of Downtown Dubai within a three-kilometre radius.

See conceptual renderings of the Downtown Circle project.

An example of vertical urbanism

The Burj Khalifa is the world’s largest free-standing skyscraper at 2,723 feet, which is almost double the height of the Empire State Building.

Through Downtown Circle, ZNera Space presents vertical urbanism as an alternative to the singular and unconnected high-rises found in most metropolitan areas. It aims to tackle the growing density of urban areas and city populations, whilst embodying hyper-efficiency and sustainability.

Sustainability at the core

Downtown Circle has been designed with factors such as garbage disposal, food production, traffic problems, and pollution in mind. Confronting environmental problems and societal constraints, the project supports Dubai’s ambition to be a sustainable urban environment by 2040.

In a past project, ZNera Space used solar hydrogen cell technology to convert water into hydrogen. This same technology is encompassed in the Downtown Circle design; solar panels along the top of the ring power the air conditioning and provide energy to the building.

The ring would be supported by five huge pillars, which it has been suggested could be used as urban air purifiers.

A “Skypark” would recreate various natural ecosystems within the ring structure, featuring canyons, sand dunes, swamps, and waterfalls, along with tropical vegetation, fruit trees and plants of varied flora.

“The Skypark is the central spine of the entire design,” explained Chowdry, co-founder of ZNera Space. “It will be a mixed-use green space and it will act as a space to rethink how agriculture is going to happen in the future, especially in cities.”

Getting around the Downtown Circle

Residents are expected to reach their work, home, and parks all within a 15-to-20-minute walk.

Hanging vests would form a rail network in the bottom tier, connecting one side of the ring to the other.

“A fleet of suspended peripheral pods transport passengers from one node to another in the Downtown Circle. These suspended vessels, travel through a network of rail at the bottom tier to get to their destination.”

An elevated heliport is also located on the roof of the inner ring, providing transportation to and from the ring to all of its inhabitants.

A new era in urban living

Chowdry and Remess intended the Downtown Circle project to be a “conversation starter […] something that could trigger people to rethink urban development and city congestion.”

“As a response to the dilemma of how to build densely while retaining liveability, the Downtown Circle project establishes a sustainable and self-sufficient vertical urbanism […] it aims to create a hyper-efficient urban centre that gives back to the environment.”

The Downtown Circle project is a captivating idea which has unsurprisingly captured the attention of people from across the globe. In light of the commencement of Saudi Arabia’s “The Line”, it seems the world is entering into a new era of experimental architecture and urban living which places sustainability and efficiency at the forefront.

See conceptual renderings of the Downtown Circle project.

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