Wednesday February 21st, 2024
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Jeddah Tower: Construction of the World’s Tallest Skyscraper Resumes

When completed, the mixed-use building will feature a Four Seasons hotel and the world’s highest observatory

Karim Abdullatif

After being paused for half a decade, construction on the world’s tallest skyscraper, Jeddah Tower, resumes in Saudi Arabia. According to reports by Dubai-based Middle East Business Intelligence, the developer Jeddah Economic Company (JEC) has invited global contractors to submit bids by the end of the year to complete the record-breaking design.

Jeddah Tower, formerly known as Kingdom Tower, is a mixed-used building that will feature a Four Seasons hotel, office spaces, serviced apartments, luxury condominiums and the world’s highest observatory.

Prior to this restart, JEC commissioned an assessment of the tower’s current state, which includes completed foundational and piling work reaching the 50th floor. Construction initially started in 2013 and was brought to a halt in 2018, before the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in further delays in 2020.

Designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, Jeddah Tower will reach a staggering height of 1,000m, at least 173m taller than Burj Khalifa, which was also designed by Adrian Smith while at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Lebanon’s Dar al-Handasah will serve as the engineering consultant of the ambitious project.

Appearing as a glossy, glass-clad tower with a sloped facade, triangle footprint and fin-like indents on the side that tapers up to a pinnacle, Jeddah Tower’s design is both highly technological and organic. With its slender, subtly asymmetrical massing, the tower evokes a bundle of leaves shooting from the ground and separating from each other at the top - a burst of new life that heralds more growth around it, acting as a catalyst for development.

While the design is contextual to Saudi Arabia, it also represents an evolution of skyscraper design. The three-petal footprint and tapering wings produce an aerodynamic shape that helps reduce structural loading due to wind. The exterior wall is expected to minimise energy consumption by reducing thermal loads. Additionally, each one of the three sides feature notches that create pockets of shadow and provide outdoor terraces with stunning views of Jeddah and the Red Sea.

Given its mammoth height, unsurprisingly Jeddah Tower will feature the most sophisticated elevator system in the world, with elevators travelling at a rate of 10 metres per second in both directions. Another unique feature is the sky terrace at level 157, which will be open to the public.

Saudi Arabia is undertaking a plethora of projects with at least 14 being referred to as ‘giga projects’, from NEOM’s The Line to Riyadh’s Murabba. Jeddah Tower will be the centrepiece and first construction phase of the $20bn Kingdom City development near the Red Sea.

Images Credit: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

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