Why there are plans to wrap the world’s tallest building in fabric

As if the world’s tallest building wasn’t already a fairly prevalent sight on Dubai’s landscape, a think tank has proposed draping the building in a reflective fabric to make it more noticeable.

The group, OP-EN (Of Possibilities Engaging Novelty), has proposed the fabric covering which it says would be suspended from a support structure on the top of the tower as a temporary installation. Its plans show the Burj Khalifa tower, in Dubai, which stands at 828-metres tall covered in a “reflective super-lightweight and semi-transparent fabric”.

The concept has been named Exo-Burji and in a post on OP-EN’s website it is described as: “In the spirit of exploring creative potential in the public realm, Exo-Burj aims to create a fluid urban ambience by suspending a reflective fabric material around the 828-metre tower, complementing the structure’s reflective facade.”

The skyscraper holds at least 18 records, including highest nightclub, and was officially opened in 2010 after a period of six years of construction. OP-EN describes itself as an interdisciplinary creative practice with a focus on art, design and architecture that tries to seek the unfamiliar.


The group visualises that the end result would increase the visual perspective of the city’s skyline as well as improving the tower’s symbol as an urban destination in the centre of the city. It also says it would create an artistic atmosphere on a vast architectural scale.

The proposed support structure to hold the fabric aloft is fan-shaped, circling the tower with the main point of connection coming from the spire of the building.

Visitors would be able to view the temporary installation from a distance – which would reflect the tower and its surroundings – but also walk up close to the fabric and experience it first-hand.

However if the – somewhat unlikely – project was to ever go ahead, the manufacturers would have to carefully look at the materials they use to create the covering as reflective buildings have caused serious problems elsewhere in the world.

In London, UK, an under-construction skyscraper’s curved shape caused heat from the sun to be bounced onto everything in its  shadow. This resulted in damage to nearby buildings and cars, and even resulted in one person frying an egg with the heat from the reflective rays.

Images courtesy of OP-EN.

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