Named One of the Best Inventions of 2011 by Time Magazine, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s (SOM) Al Hamra Firdous Tower will be the tallest building in Kuwait. The iconic structure appears to fold into itself, creating an efficient form designed to maximize views and minimize solar heat gain. The commercial complex will be complete early this year and is comprised of offices, a health club and a high-end shopping mall with theaters and a food court. Continue reading for the architect’s project description.
Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Client/ Developer: Al Hamra Real Estate and Entertainment Co., Mr. Abdulaziz Alhumaidhi
Location: Kuwait City, Kuwait
Site Area: 10,000 m2
Size: 195,000 m2
Height: 412 m (74 stories)
Completion Year: 2011
Rising 412 meters in the center of Kuwait City, Al Hamra Firdous Tower is a landmark tower of iconic sculptural form that offers breathtaking views of the Arabian Gulf. The purity of its form, expressed by a simple operation of removal, will be a timeless, elegant marker in the heart of Kuwait.
With the aim of maximizing views and minimizing solar heat gain on the office floors, a quarter of each floor plate is chiseled out of the south side, shifting from west to east over the height of the tower. The result reveals a rich, monolithic stone at the south wall framed by the graceful, twisting ribbons of torqued walls, defining the iconic form of the tower.
The building’s appearance resembles a subtle, elegant modern sculpture or an enshrouded figure with its delicate glass veil reflecting the profile of the peninsula. The resultant form will provide transparency on the north, east and west sides towards the Gulf and near-complete opacity side against the severe desert sun to the south.
The solid south wall is generated in order to decrease the solar radiation. Openings are based on the relationship of the envelope and its position in relation to the sun. The geometry of the interior wall is generated and responds to the need to minimize solar heat gain. This wall not only protects the building from critical environmental conditions, but also takes on the role of the structural spine of the building. The point at the apex of the tower not only resolves this complex geometry of the carved flared walls but also implies the continuation of the sculptural form infinitely upwards. On each floor of the tower a skybridge connects the two wings and presents a dramatic spatial experience with deep sculpted windows in the south wall providing dramatic views south towards the city, the peninsula and the infinite desert beyond.
The tower will welcome tenants with a soaring 20-meter tall lobby featuring a high articulated lamella structure which supports the tower above and articulates the space below. The geometry of the lobby area is generated by applying the principles of lamella structures. The structure provides continuity from the building to its footing and acts as a strengthening component while being completely integrated with the structure.