The National Bank of Dubai

The headquarters building for National Bank of Dubai was built in the nineties of the last century by Carlos Ott. It was considered the first intentionally modern building in Dubai. It was considered to be a model for many other buildings that were constructed afterwards. The National Bank of Dubai headquarters and its adjacent building which is the Etisalat telecommunications tower defined Dubai’s original business district’s skyline along the creek.

The shape of the building is simulated by the dhows that traditionally plied the stream, and it still plies the stream, despite the fact that it is with no sails. The tower is held up at the sides by two huge granite columns, and faced with curtain walls made of glass; on the stream side this curtain wall goes on a curvy shape in a beautiful, elegant way from top to bottom, the same as a swirling sail.

Under the tower, with an air gap between that supports the sail image, is the horizontal banking chamber, projecting to the building from the back side and the front side. The chamber itself, confronted with green colored glass, appearing to be the sea. The curved aluminum ceiling of the chamber takes the form of the glass sail on the top, rotated horizontally to appearing to be the hull of the dhow.

The forms are unpretentious and very strong, especially the relationship between ‘hull’ and ‘sail’, that is a classy performance of the constructed block-and-slab model. As a bank, though, it is definitely from the era of communicating power and wealth, rather than anything more personal or friendly.

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