The title of “World’s Tallest Building” comes at no small price for the Burj Khalifa. In fact, it’s so huge that some landlords and tenants have refused to pay service fees since 2012, resulting in thousands of dollars in outstanding utility bills for the building.
But no need to worry. The solution to this financial glitch is simple: have maintenance shut off the air conditioning and elevators to its 163 floors. Not surprisingly, moving out is on many tenants' minds.
The Burj Khalifa has been haunted by financial problems from the beginning. Completed with the help of a $20 billion bailout by the Abu Dhabi royal family, two years years later, 20% of residential and 20 floors of office space were still unoccupied. This latest threat from the building’s developer, Emaar, comes after repeated notices, follow-ups and legal warnings to unit owners with massive outstanding bills. Although the measure was scheduled to be implemented February 8th, thus far only pool and gym access has actually been shut down. On the bright side, who needs a gym when the Burj just became the World’s Tallest Stairmaster for lucky residents?
At least the sparkly lights will stay on.
As with any parental decision (and this is really just a glorified version of parenting), we have to wonder whether punishment is really the way to go. Will this actually force tenants to pay? Proposals already exist that introduce additional and alternative programs—such as transforming the space into an art installation—that could provide an incentive for condo owners to take the building seriously once again.
OP-EN, a Dubai-based creative practice, have proposed covering the Burj head-to-toe in transparent fabric, as a way of reimagining the symbol. Although this design does not directly solve the financial problems of the building, the invigoration that such an installation would provide could be a positive step—reframing and rebranding the monument may be the fresh start that it needs.
OP-EN's Exo-Burj proposal. Image via designboom.