Saudi Arabia to begin building world’s tallest skyscraper

This article originally appeared on the Telegraph, April 18, 2014

The Kingdom Tower in Jeddah will be 1km tall, dwarfing the current tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai

Kingdom Tower terrace

Kingdom Tower will soar above The Shard and the 2,722 ft Burj Khalifa in Dubai Photo: Mace

Saudi Arabia is scheduled to begin building the world’s tallest tower next week, which will soar 1km in to the sky when completed.

The Kingdom Tower in the coastal city of Jeddah will measure 3,280 feet (1km), some 568 feet (173 meters) taller than the current Guinness world record holder, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, which stands at 2,716 feet (827 metres).

At an estimated cost of $1.23bn, the tower in Saudi will require approximately 5.7 million square feet of concrete, 80,000 tonnes of steel for its 200 floors and will take five years to complete, according to The Saudi Gazette.

The tower, overlooking the Red Sea, will feature a five-star Four Seasons hotel, apartments, office space and an observatory.

But constructing the tower is not without its many challenges.

Firstly, the tower’s structure needs to be able to withstand the saltwater of the nearby ocean.

Consultants Advanced Construction Technology Services will be testing the strength of different concretes that can be used for the tower’s 200 feet (60 metres) deep foundations.

Secondly, wind load will be a problem for this gargantuan building, so the tower will change shape regularly to counter it.

Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower will be the tallest in the world. (Picture: Mace)

Gordon Gill, of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, the design architects for the building, told Construction Weekly that “because it changes shape every few floors, the wind loads go round the building and won’t be as extreme as on a really solid block.”

Another issue is delivering concrete to the higher floors. When the Burj Khalifa was built, six million cubic feet of concrete was pushed through a single pump at night when temperatures were low enough to ensure that it would set, which could be an option in Saudi.

While the plans for the building are ambitious, Sang Dae Kim, the director of the Council of Tall Buildings, told Construction Weekly that building a tower 1,000 metres in to the sky was feasible.

“At this point in time we can build a tower that is one kilometer, maybe two kilometers. Any higher than that and we will have to do a lot of homework,” he said.

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