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Al Hamra Tower, Kuwait City

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Dr. N. Subramanian
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:43 pm    Post subject: Al Hamra Tower, Kuwait City Reply with quote

Al Hamra Tower, Kuwait City

The Al Hamra Tower is a topped out skyscraper in Kuwait City, Kuwait. Designed by architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the tower is the tallest building in Kuwait on completion in 2011 at 412.6 m. [Floors Above Ground- 80 and Floors Below Ground -3]. It is the tallest sculpted tower in the world.

The tower includes 195,000 m2 of commercial and office space. The building connects to a five-story retail mall which totals 23,000 m2 of retail space and includes an integrated theater complex and an 11-story carpark. The tower itself is built on an 18,000 m2 construction site.
Owner: Al Hamra Real Estate, Kuwait city, Kuwait
Structural Engineer: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP, San Francisco
Turner Construction was in charge of the tower's construction.
Wind Engineer: BMT Fluid Mechanics, Teddington, U.K.


Al Hamra is a tower whose innovative design includes a facade with a 130-degree sweeping turn and two fins that sprout from the top and bottom of the structure in opposite directions. In a construction first, they will attempt to build the upper-most flared wall a seven-story structure that juts out 45 m from the building while suspended a quarter of a mile in the air. It consists of two ‘wings’ which are connected by a sky bridge on each floor providing what is promised to be ‘dramatic views’.

Subtractive Geometry Like many tall buildings, the Al Hamra has a central shear wall core and a perimeter moment frame. However, about one quarter of its otherwise square floor plate has been removed. The removed portion incrementally shifts at each level. The edges of the resulting cut are defined by a pair of hyperbolic paraboloid walls.
Image courtesy SOM

Almost Gothic Al Hamra has a soaring, 80-foot-tall entry hall, with a floor and core walls finished in the same limestone that clads the sculptural south-facing elevation.
Photo © SOM/Pawel Sulima
The building isn't only aesthetic; it also serves a practical form. The twisting shape ensures optimum views, while the opposite stone clad wall acts a protective skin from the desert sun where temperatures top 55 degrees Celcius. The 80 story tall concrete wall insulates the building.

The Al Hamra Tower has over 70 floors of office space, a rooftop restaurant and a spa. The shopping center includes a 10 screen Movie theater/cinema complex which also has IMAX theaters.

The south wall conceived as a tall protective stone element, forms the structural spine of the building and contains a sky bridge connecting the east and west office wings on each floor. The sky bridges present a unique spatial experience with deeply sculpted openings in the south. Strategically located south wall openings allow for dramatic views towards the city, and the infinite desert beyond, while controlling the strong solar radiation from south.

Lacy but Strong Developed through nonlinear buckling analysis, the lamella system reduces the unbraced length of structural elements. It increases load-carrying capacity almost eightfold but allows designers to keep columns slender.
Image courtesy SOM
On the ground floor, Al Hamra's transparent north façade opens up and welcomes tenants with a soaring 20m-tall highly articulated lamella structure inside the lobby. The geometry of the lobby area is generated by applying the principles of lamella structures. The continuous structure acts as a completely integrated strengthening component in the lobby, while creating a dramatic lobby experience for Al Hamra's visitors.

Steel is the material of choice for most modern skyscrapers. But to deliver the molded sculpture of Al Hamra, they needed a more malleable material. They chose concrete. One of their biggest challenges was pumping 500,000 tons of concrete a quarter mile vertically.

Forces and Form On the building's north face, perimeter columns cant outwards to increase the lobby depth and create an impressive entrance. The columns form part of a system of weblike reinforced-concrete vaults called lamellae.
Photo © SOM/Pawel Sulima
Al Hamra is tallest stone clad structure on earth. Covered with 258,000 square meters of limestone, enough to tile NYC's Central Park. While engineers were planning the building's construction they expressed concern to the architect that the flared walls could collapse under the load of the limestone. Unwilling to change their aesthetic, the two sides met in the middle. The solution: to install limestone tiles on the lower floors and a mesh tile covered with crushed limestone on the higher floor, achieving the same look, but with a fraction of the weight. The amount of materials used was:

195,000m³ of concrete
38,000 tons of reinforcing steel
6,000 tons of structural steel

Kuwait Towers[Sune Lindström and Malene Björn]
Kuwait City, Kuwait
The Al Hamra will replace the late-1970s Kuwait Towers, which include a water tower and rotating "viewing sphere," as the city's most-recognized landmark.
Photo by Joann Gonchar

Also see: Sarkisian,M. et al. Sculpting a Skyscraper, Civil Engineering, ASCE, Sept. 2012, pp. 52-61                                                  Back to top                                                   
Dr.N.Subramanian,Ph.D.,F.ASCE, M.ACI,

Maryland, USA

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