Dubai's skyscraper rainforest will create its own tropical climate

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The Rosemont Hotel and Residences development is costing $500 million to construct

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The concept of a skyscraper containing a rainforest sounds almost too absurd to entertain, even for Dubai. It's no longer a concept, though, with work on the Rosemont Hotel and Residences having now started. And the development is even more dripping with flamboyance than first reported last year.

Designed by ZAS Architects Dubai, the US$550 million project (up from an initial cost estimate of $300 million) is described as "a first-in-kind, ultra-luxury urban resort destination." It will cover an area of 2 million sq ft (186,000 sq m) and will comprise two architecturally dramatic towers mounted on a modernist podium. Both towers will rise up 53 floors, with one housing a 448-key hotel and the other 280 serviced apartments.

Located on Sheikh Zayed Road in the Al Thanyah district, the buildings will share a coherent design style, but each with its own application of that style. The hotel is said to have been conceptualized as a flowing river, inspired by reflection, light and texture and with lighting spiraling around its body. The design of the apartment building, meanwhile, references a shell containing a pearl, with orbital rings and diverging lines of light rising to the top.

Striking as the looks of the buildings will be, the external aesthetic is only a small part of the story.

Visitors will begin being wowed before they've even entered the buildings. The drop-off and arrival area, housed by the podium, will feature evolving 3D projections that will include visions of a lush rainforest and an underwater paradise and are created using a variety of audiovisual, robotics and 3D video-mapping technologies.

Inside the podium, there will be an indoor/outdoor entertainment center, with a bowling alley, a trampoline park and laser tag, among other things. The coup de grace, however, will be located atop the podium.

This is where visitors will find the 75,000-sq ft (7,000-sq m) outdoor rainforest, a public attraction replete with lush vegetation and its own sensory rain systems to simulate a humid tropical environment. According to ZAS, these will create a spray of mist among the trees and give the impression of being surrounded by rain.

The water used by the rain systems will be recycled, having been collected from condensation and stored. In order to ensure its efficient use, sensors will detect where people are and will spray it in those areas only.

Also in the rainforest area, visitors will find a stream where they can relax and a sandless beach with a splash pool in which to play. There will be adventure trails, play zones, waterfalls, and a Jurassic-inspired marsh, as well as a cafe for refreshments.

The rainforest will be accessible by a lobby of its own, but the hotel and apartments will each have an "opulent" lobby as well. The hotel lobby will feature robotic luggage handling, digital waterfalls and more projections, with access to high-speed elevators to transport visitors to the Skylobby check-in area on the 26th floor. Here, a suspended kinetic LED sculpture is planned and guests will be afforded views of the surrounding areas.

The hotel lobby will also boast a 30-ft (9-m) cantilevered, zero-edge, glass-bottom Skypool, with a deck area and pool bar. Restaurants will overlook the lobby and the pool, and there will be an "ultra-luxury" spa and health club.

There'll be exclusive VIP floors with luxurious lounges for entertainment and a rooftop lounge and bar on the 46th floor. Guests wishing to stay in opulent luxury can reserve the 6,300-sq ft (585-sq m) presidential suite, which has a luxurious living area, an aquarium in the entrance foyer, a private pool and jacuzzi, a wet spa, private treatment rooms and an ice room among its features.

The 280 serviced residences, meanwhile, will offer luxuriously furnished designer suites aimed at providing a home-away-from-home. Dedicated elevators will transport guests to the 25th floor Skylobby reception, which is surrounded by a pool deck and a bar. It will have a 30-ft (9-m) cantilevered, zero-edge pool, too, exclusively for the use of guests, as well as a cafe and a restaurant.

Rosemont Hotel and Residences is expected to be completed in 2018.

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