When the line between figurative art and architecture blurs, it’s usually in the form of sculptural organic structures, like the spiraling shell house by Javier Senosiain, or kitschy roadside attractions like the dog-shaped bed-and-breakfast in Cottonwood, Idaho. Massive urban skyscraper projects in the shape of recognizable objects are far less common, but leave it to Dubai to be among the first cities to bring one to life.
The “Clothespin Tower,” designed by Israeli artist Zygo, aims to be the world’s largest work of art at 558 feet (170 meters) tall. Small, humble, and universally familiar, the clothespin seems like an odd object to choose as the basis for a super-tall tower, let alone one that will light up the cityscape with its neon outline. But for the artist, the clothespin is an important symbol, frequently appearing in his body of work.
“ZYGO is an anonymous artist identified with the iconic clothespin. The icon constructed by two segments joined together, in a manner which is inspired and reminiscent of the generic shape of a utility clothespin,” Zygo says on Instagram. “The #Clothespin structure had become identified with #Zygo art in recent years, as an expression of divine love: two halved souls, such as the two halves of the clothespin, come together in a sacred union that is ‘a parting for connection.’ The distinctiveness of the clothespin structure stems from its balanced dynamic shape, prosaic and spectacular – these delicate contrasts are able to encapsulate stability and playfulness similar to this eternal love.”
For the artist (and the developer, who’s also from Israel), this interpretation of the clothespin’s symbolism is also a metaphor for the future relationship of Israel and the United Arab Emirates. It’s also symbolic of a hope to make art more accessible to a wider swath of people. Pictured in renderings rising from a small artificial island, like many of Dubai’s unusual buildings, the tower is visible to virtually everyone in the city (whether they like it or not). Art, of course, is subjective, and not everyone will appreciate the visual “accessibility” of this piece, especially since the building is actually full of luxury attractions and residences, but you get the idea.
One half of the 50-floor tower will be a luxury hotel with 1,200 rooms, each designed by a different international artist, while the other half will host 300 high-end apartments, contemporary art galleries, upscale restaurants, luxury boutiques, a lounge, a fitness center, and a spa. Zygo adds that his “50-plus floor clothespin design is perfect for developing a residential skyscraper that catches the eye of every individual passing by. The compartments are designed with the utmost versatility and flexibility that allow both the buyers and the residents to design and customize their spaces based on their needs, and to be part of the biggest eternal live art.”
Construction hasn’t begun yet, but Zygo and his creative team are currently seeking partners to help secure land and construction rights, hoping to break ground as soon as 2023. They’re also looking to build additional Clothespin Towers in multiple locations throughout China and Eastern Europe.