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Time to Change Name of Dubai’s ‘Torch Tower’

August 3rd, 2017 · No Comments · Dubai

What were the builders thinking?

Why would anyone name (what was then) the world’s tallest residential building … Torch Tower?

Was “Flammable Flats” already taken? Did someone have dibs on “Incinerator Manor”? “Ashes Apartments?”

Torch Tower has been a self-fulfilling appellation. It seems keen to live up to its reckless name.

For the second time in three years, Torch Tower went up like … a torch … in Dubai.

This time, apparently no one was injured, but still … you do not want your tower to be starring in photo galleries around the world.

Dubai is the home of enormously tall buildings, including the the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building since 2010.

When the 79-story Torch Tower was completed, in 2011, builders declared it to be the world’s tallest residential building, at 1,105 feet (336.8 meters). It has since been eclipsed by a pair of towers across the street, neither of which have “torch” or “matchstick” in their names.

Dubai, the world’s skyscraper epicenter, has a problem with flammable cladding.

Cladding is the substance builders often put on the outside of buildings. It typically has a decorative function but it also can offer water resistance.

However, the less-expensive varieties of cladding for buildings have a layer of polyurethane — which burns quite energetically when exposed to a flame.

Burning cladding can also race up the sides of a building, acting rather like a chimney in pushing heat upward. The 2015 Torch fire was exacerbated by flammable cladding. It is suspected cladding was a factor in the second Torch fire.

Flammable cladding was blamed for the deadly Grenfill Tower fire in London last month.

Dubai has passed laws demanding that all new-builds have flame-retardant cladding, but it is not clear that buildings built before a certain date are required to retrofit flame-proof cladding. (Nor is clear what sort of cladding went on at the Torch when repairs were made after the 2015 fire.)

Clearly, tall buildings in the UAE, and Dubai in particular, are at risk of fire, as the embedded gallery at this link indicates.

Also, three makers of aluminum cladding, which is less likely to burn, indicate demand from builders in Dubai is “almost nonexistent” in recent years, according to a story in The National.

Anyway, only one Dubai tower has gone up in flames twice in the past three years, and it is the one with “Torch” in its name. After the next round of repairs, which ought to include flame-resistant cladding … how about a name change, too?

How about Fireproof Fortress?


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