Jaume Plensa and Crystal® form golden musical water feature in lobby of Burj Khalifa

Contemporary Catalan artist Jaume Plensa and international water feature specialist Crystal® have completed a unique sculpture in the dramatic residential entrance lobby of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Commissioned by SOM and EMAAR Properties, ‘World Voices’ is explained by Plensa as such: “The residential lobby area of Burj Khalifa is a meeting place of diverse cultures and nationalities – a metaphor of the diversity of our global society. World Voices is homage to this diversity and a celebration of life.”

To this end, Jaume Plensa’s ‘World Voices’ is composed of 196 cymbals that represent the 196 countries of the world – symbolic to Burj Khalifa being a collaboration of people from across the planet and befitting its global iconic status. Cast in bronze and brass alloy, plated with 18-carat gold and finished by hand, the cymbals are suspended onto titanium rods anchored at the bottom of two pools, evoking reeds in a lake.

The cymbals create a distinct timbre as they are gently struck by water dropping from the ceiling above which the artist compares to the sound of water falling on leaves.

In response to the artist’s specifications, Crystal developed custom technology that creates the right size, volume, and control of the droplets that fall approximately 60 feet (18.2m) from the atrium’s gold-leaf ceiling onto 18 of the gold cymbals. The droplets fall through 1in / 25 mm diameter openings in the lobby’s atrium ceiling, and create a natural rhythm as they make contact with the cymbals below. Crystal developed the gravity-fed water controls designed to create bigger, natural droplets.

Crystal Senior Associate Rob Mikula says: “It sounds like a simple idea, and in fact it looks simple, but to generate the right sound at the time intervals dictated by the artist, was challenging.  It was a fascinating project that gave us all an added appreciation of the medium in which we work every day. It is truly inspirational to have the opportunity to collaborate with a public artist of the importance of Mr. Plensa. His ideas concerning water are simple yet very dramatic.”