It is easy, looking at the spread of this roof, to think of this as a low building, and indeed, it is much longer and wider than it is high. But in fact the theme park beneath the roof occupies a space that is 50m high – an indication of just how big this building is.

It will house the largest indoor theme park in the world, but for those who do not often frequent such places, some basic statistic will probably make more sense. The roof has a total surface are of 200,000 square metres, and a perimeter of 2,200m, so at a brisk pace it would take you around 20 minutes to walk round the edge. But a brisk walk in the burning heat that Abu Dhabi experiences for much of the year is scarcely appealing, and that is one of the reasons why the facility is largely under cover.

Architect Benoy and engineer Ramboll have not only had to deal with the structural and organisational challenges of this building, but also to include a Ferrari logo which, at 65m high and 48.5m wide, is the largest that the company has ever created – indeed on its own it is the length of several Ferraris placed bumper to bumper. You could get 750 Ferraris into the entire development.

The most dramatic element of the already dramatic roof is the glazed funnel at the centre, which looks as if one could swirl down it, as if in a giant bath. Fully glazed, it brings light into the centre of the development, and is the apex around which the most dramatic rides spiral.

In fact the entire building, which structurally comprises the biggest space frame ever built, can be divided into three elements: –the funnel; the ‘shield’ which surrounds it ; and the ‘triforms’, the bifurcated elements that stretch away from the centre. Structurally, each of these elements behaves individually, so that there are in effect five separate space frames.

These frames were complex to design, but as much standardisation has been introduced as possible, so that there are some repeating elements, keeping down costs. The frame is directly integrated with the structure of the roof, and the use of relatively large spans and small sections means that the overall feeling is airy.

The most dramatic part of the structure is at the centre, where 12 space-frame columns surround the glazed ‘funnel’, splitting into arches that support the roof in a manner reminiscent of a Gothic cathedral.

Construction of the project was fast but not brief, a seeming contradiction that reflects the vast scale of the work. Cladding the roof alone took 14 months. And once the envelope of the building was complete, in the autumn of 2009, another year of work was needed as fitting out was no mean task either. Unlike some iconic buildings, which are designed and built with little idea of what will go in them, Ferrari World was conceived from the beginning as an entirety. The building itself may be impressive, but its role is ‘merely’ to act as a container of, and in a sense an advertisement for, the activities that go on inside it.

These include Formula Rossa, officially the world’s fastest roller coaster, in which travellers will experience the same G force as if braking in an F1 Ferrari at top speed – all the thrills and none of the risks of spills. If that is not exciting enough visitors can also experience the gravitational drop from the 60m high G Force tower.

And those who manage to hold on to their stomachs will not be short of dining options either. There is seating for 1,200, which means that, even at full capacity, everybody within the theme park should be able to eat over a three hour period. And this is not just any old food – a record-breaking four Michelin-starred chefs work there.

So, Ferrari World – a combination of speed, luxury and a lot of bright red prepainted metal. Definitely reminiscent of a Ferrari – and we can be certain that this is no coincidence. And, just like the cars, a great deal of behind the scenes development and innovation was needed to create a top notch product.

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