THE SITE Spread over an area of 49 square kilometers Jafza ranks among the world’s largest and the fastest growing free zones. Jebel Ali Free Zone is a part of state owned Economic Zones World, one of the world’s biggest developers of Economic Zones, Logistics and R&D driven Industrial Parks, which has its base in Dubai. The plot, which has yet to be fully defined, is located near to the existing Gate No.4 which it replaces where access to the Harbour is to be extended from 3 to 16 lanes with a new security gate required. The Structure will become one of the main entry points to the Harbour and is directly approached from Sheikh Zayed Road. THE DESIGN The Client’ s brief placed great emphasis on the creation of an iconic structure to announce and represent Jebel Ali Free Zone and the Dubai World brands to Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai’s main artery. Otherwise the fundamental functional requirement of the structure is that of providing a more comfortable environment for the security officers to operate beneath. The design direction was taken towards a light weight canopy structure to span the 16-lane entry/exit, a distance of some 81 meters. In addressing these parameters we chose to design a canopy structure similar in form to a suspension bridge, with the main structural element taking the form of a flat parabolic arch 20 meters in height at its apex. The arch overstretches and bisects the ribbed filigree canopy element on the diagonal with the result that only a single beam was necessary to provide structural support. The inspiration for the canopy design was the form of a Human Backbone.