Clear skies, crystalline blue waters, and…scalding hot sand? The latter is not part of a beach day in paradise, and paradise is exactly what management at Dubai's Palazzo Versace hotel and condominium are aiming to give each and every one of their guests and residents. In Middle Eastern Dubai, where temperatures can reach a boiling 122 degrees Fahrenheit, those visiting during the summer months may not be able to enjoy sunbathing on the beach. Refusing to allow Mother Nature to interfere, the Palazzo has hired Hyder Consulting to fix the problem.
Hyder, which has a long-term presence in the Middle East and offers engineering services, including environmentally sustainable buildings, infrastructure solutions, mechanical and electrical expertise, will install heat-absorbing pipes beneath the sand that will serve as a cooling system. Above ground, large wind turbines will send refreshing island breezes over bikini and speedo-clad beach goers. Says Soheil Abedian, the president of Palazzo Versace, "We will suck the heat out of the sand to keep it cool enough to lie on." The surrounding pools will actually be cooled, rather than heated, to prevent them from becoming boiling hot tubs. As for the temperature of the ocean, that will be left to the laws of nature.
Hyder Consulting was also the firm behind Dubai's famous indoor alpine ski slope, Ski Dubai., which uses rather the opposite technology to create a winter wonderland in the middle of a dessert. All of this rapid expansion and sophisticated new technology begs the question: Is it environmentally responsible? Palazzo Versace spokespeople profess the project will create an environmentally sustainable beach, but some critics charge that each resident of Dubai has a carbon footprint of more than 44-tons of C02 annually, suggesting that sustainable growth is not Dubai's biggest concern. Hyder itself worked on renovating the public beach (Abu Dhabi Beach) this past summer, making it environmentally sustainable by installing storm water pipelines, sewage treatment, pumping stations, and infrastructure and aesthetic improvements.
If the environmentally friendly factor of Palazzo Versace is ambiguous, its luxury standard is not. When completed, the hotel and condominium complex will include spas, three restaurants, an indoor gymnasium, outdoor pools, scuba pools, a promenade, the "Cool Beach," and goodness knows what kind of price tag.
Don't book your tickets quite yet, though. Construction on Palazzo Versace is scheduled for completion in late 2009 or 2010. But no matter when you go, bring sun block: the sand might be cool, but until Hyder goes solar, the sun will still be hot.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.