Weird Wednesday: Climate Controlled Sand

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Forget the flip flops. Just cool the sand. That’s what the developers of Palazzo Versace Hotel and Condominiums in Dubai are planning to offer to their clientele. The waterfront complex, slated to open in late 2009 or early 2010, is currently under construction and will cater to the super rich. And since members of that population are used to being catered to at every turn, a “refrigerated beach” is now being planned.

Hyder Consulting, a UK-based company that provides planning, engineering, environmental, and management consultancy services, has reportedly been hired to design the project. Hyder’s experience in the region includes Ski Dubai, an indoor attraction where visitors can enjoy cold weather activities.

Reports indicate that the cooling system at Palazzo Versace will include a series of pipes under the sand containing a coolant to absorb heat from the sand. Plans also include the placement of giant wind blowers, designed to keep tourists cool on the beach.

As it stands, the infrastructure for a refrigerated beach will greatly increase the energy usage at the complex, a fact that environmental groups may not like. Rachel Noble, the campaigns officer at Tourism Concern in the UK, for instance, stated that the carbon generated by such projects would contribute to climate change.

The hotel’s founder has stated that the project will be environmentally friendly, but specifics remain to be seen. In the Ski Dubai project, Hyder Consulting designed the facility to enable the recycling of “snow” and to run on just the power needed to keep the lights on. So, it remains to be seen what the firm can do in terms of energy conservation here.

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