World Islands, Dubai
The Submerged City

Venice is probably the most famous and iconic city in the world, one of the oldest artificial islands ever built. For more than 15 centuries Venice has stood as a testament to construction innovation and technology, but also art, architecture and luxury lifestyle.

Venice is more than just a location, it’s a way of life, a unique state of mind, a city with a very delicate balance between water and land, nature and technology, traditional and contemporary art and events. Rather than a city, is a place where life is lived in a completely different way.

With the Submerged Venice we are proposing and enhancing this way of life. The project is a floating masterplan with a built-up area of 70,000 m2, that includes 20,000 m2 of underwater experience directly open to the ocean. A new way to experience the relationship between man and water.



The essence of Andalusian Heritage. Representing the culture and history of a place through a contemporary construction.

El Patio. The typical Andalusian court with its plants, windows, white walls and water features always present also in the Arabic Xth century culture.

Flamenco!: The facade designed as a flamenco dancer’s dress… its curves and shapes spinning from the powerful expression of its movement….

Puerto Banús… a beach-club area designed as a homage to the best-known harbour on Spain’s southern coast.

La Cala: The small typical Spanish beach with its chiringuito where visitors can relax and eat barbequed sardines on the sand.

Fishermen houses surrounding a private pool. The hotel suites at the edge of the water, like the Mediterranean fishermen houses where boats are stored or nets are prepared for the day’s catch.

The Gypsy’s caves… the traditional Andalusian house carved out of the mountain where local gypsy families live, dance and socialize.

El Tablao… the XXIst-century response to traditional cabaret. A show, a tapas dinner and excitement at sunset every day at the very heart of the Hotel.



A gentle balance between the artificial and nature, massive walls and the mountain, natural water and artificial fountains. A physical journey through the history and evolution of the Iranian tradition. An elegant re-interpretation in a modern key of the Persian culture.
We took this shell and core project and turned the concept upside-down, modelling a new experience for the hotel guest by incorporating the surrounding nature and history within the building.

A great start for our new journey in a land rich in cultural and historical inspiration.




Portofino Hotel is the first of a series of Hotel Resorts that Alena Belahlavak & Architects has been commissioned to design and build in the World Island Archipelago offshore Dubai coast. In this case, our office has been appointed to re-design and existing structure and giving it a new image and meaning.
Our tasks involved changing all possible spaces, structures and in- stallations to support the Interior Design envisioned by us... New Ac- cess, Marina, Landscaped areas, roof gardens... new Lobby, Atrium, Restaurants, Spa, Gym... re-designed Rooms, Suites and a whole brand new 1800 m2 super exclusive villa at the top of the building.
A massive workload in a super-tight time schedule, designing even when the construction phase was already started. A whole challenge to our offices which had to provide updated construction documents and on site supervision on a daily basis.



An Oasis of golden sunsets reflecting on shiny brass lattice-work... the blue horizon of the Persian Gulf waters reflecting white Carrara marble... the slow dance of the surface of the water caressing African brushed woods.
Arabian ambiance defined by light lines that create contemporary spaces. Quiet and balanced... The luxury of a peaceful oasis of tran- quillity surrounded by cotton upholstery, Egyptian linen curtains and Italian hand-polished nuvolato surfaces...
A one thousand and One nights... A Royal Mirage worthy of princes.


Early-morning sunlight filtering through the leaves caresses the soft texture of the black carrara marble… sensual shadows drawn on the floor by the curved canopy dance to the murmur of water. Coffee is at the table… smoky… its aroma wafting gently on the fresh spring Mediterranean air…

Remembering our walks at the Ciutadella park conservatory,
we designed an oasis of tranquillity in the middle of the blasting rush of the metropolis. We brought its sensual lines and shadows to protect the peaceful life of the occupants from indiscreet eyes.

A classic taste reinvented submerged in the heart of Barcelona.


A landscape built into a home to inhabit it. An urban landscape for public events, big gatherings and an active social life related to the country’s bourgeoisie. Over the surface a constructed prairie of lei- sure, meetings and long walks around business and casual conver- sations... with architecture floating over it witnessing the horizon and the eventual crowds around the citizens of the house.
In the centre, submerged, a great excavation hides a whole secret life of private life. A ray of light excavates a mineral crater... a built cenote in the outskirts of the city... between prairies of wood, grass and concrete. An aquatic world surrounded by rooms, relaxing stances and quietness of cross views in silence.
Floating in the depths of its silence looking up... resting remembering the activity and performances which took place not long ago in the upper world... the boisterous surface.



Crystal clear blue waters, maritime pine trees, French cuisine, prom- enades and walks beside the sea, colorful facades and small coastal towns... are the essence of the Mediterranean Cote D’Azur.
How to accommodate that romantic idea while facing such a massive construction? How to re-think an old-fashioned 90 ́s style resort with huge repetitive facades and courtyards?
Light and color. Sun reflections on facades, brightness... Let’s paint in a different way. Let’s tell the kaleidoscopic story of the colorful Cote d’Azur facades deconstructing it into changing reflections, changing tones... as the observer moves in front of the building. We will build a modern construction which evokes the vernacular facades in bits and pieces... flashes, glares and painted spaces in light and color.
To achieve this illusion we are using a dichroic film in the galss slats of the façade. This film de-composes the colors depending on the angle from which is perceived, creating a short of always changing range of colors as light and observer progresses in time and space.



Living in a mountain... looking around above the rest... having a priv- ileged view... a privileged position... nobody, nothing can block your view... a shelter of privacy within the comfort of a community.
We imagine a green mountain, a summer bright afternoon in the lower alps, overlooking the rows of wine yards sliding down gently towards the Lac Leman shore... We remember the summer swims at the floating platforms at Frauenbad Stadhousquai in Zürich... the wooden Rivas sailing across Luzern Lake from shore to shore...
We rescue from our Swiss summer memories the long trekkings searching for small waterfalls... the walks through the green slopes of bright green grass ... Discovering Ice caves with stalactites of frozen water...

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