Sideways skyscraper

The Link in the UAE is the world’s longest cantilever.

The world’s longest cantilever, fixed to the One Za’abeel mixed-use complex in the United Arab Emirates designed by Japanese design firm Nikken Sekkei, was recently completed. 


Presented as a floating connection point between two towers, the cantilever – named The LInk – sits more than 100 metres above the ground. The horizontal bridge has a full-length 230-metre viewing platform, 67,5 metres of which is actually cantilever – this portion overtaking the 66,5-metre-long observation deck at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore as the longest cantilever in the world.


Of the project, chief architect of Nikken Sekkei Ltd, Kokona Nakamura, says, ‘The Link's 67,5-metre cantilever [provides] visitors with the illusion of floating in mid-air. The Link has been created using a robust outer tubular structure system, with its main steel members arranged in a diamond grid pattern along four sides to minimise torsion while yielding a contiguous, column-free interior space. The Link's connective position between the two towers increases safety and suppresses wind-driven sway, a frequent issue with tall buildings.’


Work on One Za’abeel began in 2014 when Nikken Sekkei was announced as lead consultancy firm responsible for the concept and design of the project. The concept imagined by Nikken Sekkei was described by the firm as expressing ‘the warm welcome of the city based on family values in the form of two graceful “father and  son” towers with a “strong bond”.’


The construction of the cantilever marked one of the heaviest lifts in the region, in a process that involved lifting the first section of The Link, weighing around 8 500 tonnes, over a twelve-day period, followed by the 900-tonne remaining cantilever tip that was lifted and attached over four days. 


Designed to be a symbol of Dubai’s growth and expansion, the project offers easy access to the downtown region. The scheme, with inside space of over 530 000 square metres, features restaurants, retail spaces, workspaces, residential and urban hotel accommodation. 


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