by Jincy IypeAug 20, 2019
Dubai, a city known for its pursuit of headline-grabbing feats that challenge the limits of design and engineering, has yielded yet another such marvel. This time, it is in the form of the world’s deepest swimming pool titled Deep Dive Dubai. Settled in the city’s Nad Al Sheba locality, the space is the latest new superlative among the plethora of awe-inspiring attractions scattered across UAE’s most populous urban area. Housed within an oyster-shaped complex surrounded by terraced fountains that reference Dubai’s pearl diving roots, Deep Dive Dubai is a 1,500 sqm deep diving facility that caters to both novice thrill-seekers as well as experienced scuba and free divers looking to explore the otherworldly environment of its world record-holding pool.
Reaching a depth of 60.2 m, as verified by the Guinness Book of World Records, the pool can hold 14 million litres of water (equivalent to nearly six Olympic-sized swimming pools), and that’s barely scraping the surface of astonishing features that the facility contains. Within the pool’s abyssal depths is a lost underwater city, complete with derelict streetscapes, apartments, and many more surprises. It’s safe to say that the project takes pool design to a whole new level, in an embodiment of Dubai’s endless quest for ostentation. Initially designed by Pascall + Watson - based in the UK, Ireland, and Middle East - in collaboration with Ramboll Dubai, the project had a variety of contributors over the years. The result of this collaboration is an experience that “allows thrill-seekers to dive inwards and discover a new underwater dimension filled with adventure and wonder,” as expressed by Abdulla Bin Habtoor, Deep Dive Dubai’s spokesperson, in an official statement. Jarrod Jablonski, a world record-holding diver and the pool’s Director builds on this notion in a press release, stating that “Deep Dive Dubai offers something truly unique for everyone, with a team that is committed to ensuring a memorable experience.”
Once immersed in the 27m x 17m pool at the complex’s ground level, divers encounter a 10m diameter deep shaft, where a vast sunken cityscape reveals itself, teeming with storefronts, streetlights, ATMs, benches and a large tree with roots stretching to a depth of 25m. Here, visitors are able to access the pool’s two underwater habitats located at depths of six and 21m respectively. As unique features of this facility that are not seen in other such diving pools, these dry habitats allow divers to surface, catch a breath, or even discard their equipment and exit the water if they desire.
Conversely, the post-apocalyptic urbanscape gets more and more haggard towards the lower depths, where nature takes over the man-made forms - as seen in moss-covered surfaces, swirling tree trunks, and plants growing in every nook and corner. At a depth of 28m, an apartment housing a bedroom, kitchen, dining, music and art room, and living spaces, presents itself in a 62m donut-shaped path around the main shaft. Similarly, at 38m, another donut-shaped space features cars, motorbikes, arcade games, pinball machines, a pool table, a life-size stormtrooper, a full-size LEGO man, and other toys in a garage-themed interior; this zone is connected to the apartment above by a staircase shaft. At depths between 40m and 60m, the space morphs into a deep shaft enclosed by worn brick walls plastered with graffiti.
Contributing to the overall experience are 56 underwater cameras for divers to document their adventures, as well as 164 mood, ambient, and wayfinding lights. In addition, 27 speakers and a dedicated sound system allow the facility’s staff to relay messages to the divers, play music, or create underwater soundscapes. Deep Dive Dubai is also home to the world’s largest underwater film studio equipped with a media editing room and a video wall.
Speaking with STIR, Jesper Kjoller, a Senior Marketing Supervisor at Deep Dive Dubai, sheds light on what makes the facility unique among other deep diving pools. He says: “It is the sunken city theme that sets us apart from other deep pools. They have white square tiles and chlorinated water. We have vehicles, street lights, fully furnished apartments, pool tables, arcade games and dozens of other features that make divers want to come back again and again to explore. On top of that, we have plenty of cutting-edge technology features like underwater cameras, hydrophones, underwater habitats, advanced lighting design systems and a decompression chamber.” The latter is said to be the region’s most advanced hyperbaric chamber, set to open later this year. Regarding the obstacles encountered in realising such an ambitious project, Kjoller shares that digging a 60m shaft in the sand was a challenge, as was managing galvanic corrosion in an environment with many different materials and metals.
Additionally, the pool’s water - constantly maintained at 30° C - is treated by one of the most cutting-edge filtration systems in the region. After passing through a perlite filter consisting of siliceous volcanic rock to expunge debris, dust and organic matter, the freshwater is then subjected to a NASA-developed ionisation process to control bacteria, and finally, disinfected by a pair of UV reactors; the entire process is repeated at six-hour intervals.
The facility provides for three types of experiences according to the certification levels of divers, namely Discover, Dive, and Develop, in ascending order of skill level. “For those seeking a unique experience,” Jablonski elaborates in a press release, “Deep Dive Dubai provides an exceptional, safe and controlled environment to learn all about diving. For experienced members of the freedive and scuba dive communities, it’s a facility and experience like no other.”