Al Hamra Tower, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

At 412 meters, Al Hamra is amongst the tallest buildings in the world. Setting it apart from other super high-rise buildings is its unique sculpted form. An example of architectural expression through structural form on a grand scale, the structural system and exterior form developed together in a process of symbiotic evolution. The building geometry is generated by a spiralling slice subtracted from a simple prismatic volume. The two resultant surfaces are hyperbolic paraboloid reinforced-concrete walls, which extend the full height of the tower and participate in the lateral and gravity force resisting systems. The effect reveals a rich, monolithic south wall framed by the graceful, twisting “ribbon” walls that gesture toward the sky.

The tower welcomes tenants with a soaring 24-meter-tall lobby with a reinforced concrete lamella structure that supports the tower above and articulates the space below. To increase the area of the lobby, the north concrete columns of the tower, which are vertical from level 12 to the tower roof, slope away from the building core following a circular arch. The result of this movement is that the main tower columns passing through the lobby are 24m tall and curved, developing large bending moments in the columns. To address issues of slenderness in these otherwise unbraced columns, a lamella bracing scheme was devised which reduces both the unbraced length of the primary tower columns and the load demands through load sharing with parallel members. This distinctive feature provides continuity from the building to its footing and acts as a strengthening component.

Completed in 2011

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