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.

Real-life ‘Iron Man’ suits to be mass produced by Panasonic

The dream of being Tony Stark in your own Iron Man suit has moved one step closer after Panasonic has announced its ‘powered suit’ will go into mass production. The suit will give the super-human strength to the wearer as well as being able to move at the speed of a gentle run for between two and three hours per charge.

The test version of the suit was able to lift objects weighing 100kg and run at a speed of 8km/h on a hill with a ten degree gradient. The mass produced version is designed to lift 30kg for long periods of time.

It won’t be long until people on the streets will be walking around with super-human strength as the suit is set to go on sale in 2015. And it might actually be within reach for many; Panasonic plans to sell the suits at the surprisingly affordable price of just 500,000 Yen (£2,900/$4,900).

A system of mass production is being created for this year and the company hopes to make more than 1,000 per year.

The suit is by no means the first that has been developed to allow superhuman strength but it is the first to be mass produced.

Developed by Panasonic subsidiary Activelink, the suit is powered by a larger version of the batteries used in smartphones and computers. The lithium ion battery powers a motor that allows the suit to grip and release.

It is also possible to programme the arms so they can be used for operations involving hammers and digging – with an attachable hammer and a scoop. The wearer of the suit uses grips near their arms to control the movements of the suit.

Panasonic now plans to partner with other major companies to sell the suit and is also considering the possibility of renting it.

The company sees the suits helping in short-term situations such as emergencies and natural disasters. When these type of suits become the norm they may be able to help save lives on a daily basis.

The suit gives a glimpse into the potential for robotics to aid and enhance human abilities; we can see future versions combining biometrics to aid the movement of those who have suffered physical injuries and disabilities.

It is rumoured that Panasonic is also developing a suit that can be worn under a spacesuit or diving gear to aid movement in different environments.

Image courtesy of Panasonic.