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Richmond-based De Novo Architects has been asked to work up additional designs for this extraordinary scheme in Dubai, which will include the largest freestanding dome in the world. Lead consultant Event Specialist Projects and engineer Buro Happold commissioned the practice, which was created by three former senior architects who left Aukett during its troubles of 2004, last year. The mixed-use project is modelled on the concept of a vast snow dome emerging 'like a volcano' from the desert. The dome itself will be home to extensive skiing facilities while also housing a five-star hotel. This will involve an extensive serviceengineering exercise, which aims to harness the massive solar capacity of the desert sun to fuel the high energy requirements of running a snow dome in such a hot country. The dome will be surrounded by residential buildings designed to enhance the impression of the 'volcano'. These will include two 32-storey 'crystal' towers, to contain a four-star hotel, serviced apartments and condominiums, and a crescent of nine multi-storey 'iceberg' apartment blocks. A monorail will bring visitors from the underground parking levels to the entrance atria.

The US$800 million (£450 million) project is planned to open in 2008.

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