The Bride: Basra's ambitious vertical city to become world's tallest building

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The Bride will cover an area of 1,550,000 sq m (16,700,000 sq ft)

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Basra, Iraq, is known as "the bride of the gulf" after its life-supporting fertile lands, and building vertically is one way to protect those lands. The planned Bride vertical city does just that. Covering 1,550,000 sq m and rising to a world record height of 1,152 m (3,789 ft), this vertical city designed by British-Iraqi architectural firm AMBS will have its own own neighborhoods, schools, clinics and transport system.

Not only will vertical building help to minimize urban spread in Basra, but it will help to make efficient use of space in what AMBS Architects calls one of the fastest growing business centers in the world, and one where space is at a premium. This thinking is baked into a downtown masterplan commissioned by the Basra Governorate, which seeks to maximize the city's capacity by 2025. The Bride will be the centerpiece of this masterplan.

The project began in 2014, but has been kept confidential until now for security purposes. It will cover an area of 1,550,000 sq m (16,700,000 sq ft) and the firm is at pains to make clear that, not only is it a vertical city rather than a tower, but its planned height of 1,152 m (3,789 ft) – which would make it the world's tallest building by a substantial margin – should also not overshadow its other innovations.

AMBS says the design seeks to "break new ground in all disciplines of engineering, from structures to vertical transportation and services." To begin with, it actually comprises four towers, ranging in height from 244 m (801 ft) to 964 m (3,163 ft), joined together by a series of "sky gardens" and "sky squares." This gives the structure far more routes of access and escape than a conventional tower and makes it more stable.

The Bride is designed for round the clock use, with offices, hotels, whole neighborhoods, commercial centers, sky-squares, parks, gardens and its own rail network. It will be open for use by all, not only those who live and work there. There will be shaded parks and promenades to walk in, for example, and places to shop and eat.

The Bride's rail service will move people around the huge building. Each tower will have a three-story "sky avenue" containing amenities, services and a train station for its local community. The station will be served by fast double decker lifts, while smaller local shuttle lifts will serve the zones above and below.

The building is also aimed at being net-zero and at being the most environmentally-advanced development in the world. The towers are located in such a way as to shade each other, while the tallest and most exposed tower will be shaded by a 600,000 sq m (6,500,000 sq ft) canopy or "veil" of its south façade.

In addition to providing shade, the canopy will have integrated hybrid solar cooling photovoltaic-thermal panels. Water heated within these will be use to improve the performance of the panels and will them be used to drive a cooling cycle for the building.

Director of AMBS Marcos De Andres tells Gizmag that the masterplan for Basra, with the Bride as its centerpiece, was approved last year. There is no start or completion date set for the project currently, but it is expected to move forward once economic conditions in the region are more favorable.

The video below provides an introduction to the Bride.

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