December 13, 2007 Anywhere but Dubai, the idea of building a luxury hotel 66 feet underwater would sound far-fetched. But next to the Burj-al-arab, the rotating skyscraper, manufactured islands and indoor ski slopes of the desert commerce capital, the Hydropolis will fit right in. At a rough cost of UK£300 million, this jaw-dropping engineering challenge will allow guests to get a true taste for the peace and beauty of underwater life - and at a projected pricetag of up to USD$5500 per night for a room, you'd certainly be hoping that life is much better down where it's wetter.
While the idea of an underwater hotel might not be unique (The US$105 million Poseidon Mystery Island resort in Fiji, also under construction, is likely to open its doors first), the Hydropolis will be several times larger, deeper underwater, and far more opulent than its rivals.
Guests and visitors will arrive at the land station, on Dubai's Jumeirah Beach, where they can view a high-tech cinema presentation on the evolution of aquatic life and underwater architecture. The wave-shaped land station will be stunning to look at in its own right, and it will house Hydropolis staff, marine biology research labs, a conference center, parking and even a cosmetic surgery practice.
At the bottom level lies a 515-metre long tunnel, which takes guests by silent, automatic train out past the shoreline to where the underwater hotel itself lies. While all 220 of the hotel's bubble-shaped suites lie on the floor of the Persian Gulf, 66 feet (20 metres) under the surface of the water, the twin domes of the hotel's concert auditorium and ballroom will break through the surface. The ballroom's retractable roof will allow guests to enjoy open-air events, with panoramic views of the coastline and the Dubai skyline when the weather's fine - which, being Dubai, will be almost all of the time.
The Hydropolis will be well-looked after in emergencies - a series of watertight doors will allow management to completely seal off entire sections of the complex in the case of a rupture (here's hoping there's nobody in the sealed bits!) - and in anticipation that such an extravagant project might be a terrorist target, the complex will have its own missile defense system.
The Hydropolis Group's Executive Chariman, Joachim Hauser, assembled a team of offshore and submarine construction specialists to design and build the Hydropolis - but it seems Hauser is using the project as somewhat of a dry-run for an even more difficult and expensive venture. Since 1999, he has been working on a German taskforce to research and design a tourist hotel in space, which makes the financial and technical challenges of this underwater venture pale in comparison.
Nonetheless, due to marine environment issues and the herculean task of securing finance for such an ambitious project, the Hydropolis construction timeline has blown out somewhat - it was originally scheduled to be opened by the end of 2007, but is now expected to be completed by 2009.
Via Design Build Network.