The Pad Exterior James Law
Image: James Law Cybertecture

World’s smartest buildings: The Pad, Dubai

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Alice Cruickshank

The fast-paced development of Dubai has been greatly assisted by proptech. Now a development aims to take the city’s love of innovation to the next level. Welcome to The Pad Residential Tower, designed to resemble Apple’s classic iPod.

Yes, you read that right: previously called iPad, The Pad apartment building is inspired by the iconic MP3 player of the 2000s. The design is the work of developer Omniyat and architect James Law, who specialises in what he labels as ‘cybertecture’ – the seamless blending of architecture and digital technology.

Building The Pad

Outside The Pad James Law

The 6.5 degree incline of The Pad is designed to mimic an iPod in its docking station

Located in Dubai’s Business Bay, The Pad is a 24-storey residential building, housing 253 apartments. Construction of The Pad began in 2007 but was halted in 2009 due to the global financial recession. The project was resumed in 2013 and is on track to be completed this year.

The building stands at an idiosyncratic 6.5 degree incline, overlooking Dubai Creek. The angle is designed to imitate the look of the classic iPod in its docking station. Meanwhile the polished, curved edges of the building resemble the iPod Nano.

While The Pad’s muse of the iPod might be considered vintage these days, the illuminated façade of the building creates an entirely futuristic appearance. More than 2,000 specially designed programmable LED panels adorn the exterior of the development.

A one-bedroom apartment inside The Pad development starts from around £327,000.

Living in The Pad

IReality The Pad Dubai James Law

The iReality wall inside apartments provides a live view of 62 world locations

Designer James Law was determined to futureproof his building by providing a fully immersive smart home experience for residents. The technology will be controlled from, you guessed it, an iPad.

Technology includes radio-frequency identification locks, voice control features, and virtual reality. In future, residents will be able to add features to their smart homes like a user would download apps to a smart phone.

One of The Pad’s most unique features is a virtual reality wall called iReality, which can provide a live view from 62 world locations. Residents can also video call friends and family and have them appear life-sized on the screen. Smart lights throughout each apartment change colour to signal someone is at the door, the phone is ringing, or at set times as a reminder, such as if the resident’s favourite TV show is about to start.

Innovation continues into the bathroom. The mirror can monitor weight, blood pressure and other health metrics.

Snapshot into homes of the future?

Health Monitoring Mirror The Pad James Law

Bathroom mirrors provide complete health monitoring

While modelling a building on a now obsolete piece of technology seems an odd choice, Law’s love of digital innovation is clear. Maybe his next development will be a cylindrical building called Alexa?

The smart home technology inside The Pad is undeniably impressive. Virtual reality walls and full-body health monitoring are reminiscent of something from Black Mirror, and demonstrate the full extent of what proptech currently has to offer residential developers.

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