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Engineering The Kingdom Tower

It seems almost unbelievable, but the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah could actually happen. The thousand metre plus building will however take a serious amount of high-tech engineering to get it to stand up and beat the current title holder, the Burj Khalifa by at least 173 metres.

It's been designed by the architects Smith + Gill to resemble a group of leaves erupting from the ground, something that symbolises the idea of growth and the importance of plant growth in the desert kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Due to the extreme height of the tower it is vital that the building have wind loads reduced to the bare minimum. The footprint of the building has been been penned to be that of a trio of petals. Each of these petals can not only provide a wing of accommodation, but are designed to be as aerodynamically effective as possible by reducing a phenomenon known as wind vortex shedding.

Wind vortex shedding is where are alternating low pressure zones form and migrate. These cause resonance around a structure that add to the structural loading that can, if poorly managed, lead to structural failure.

The three-winged plans have also created the opportunity for a series of notches to be designed into the tower. These notches create shadowed areas that reduce the solar gain and allow the creation of outdoor terraces for the residential apartments that are heavily shaded and comfortable to use despite the powerful Arabian sun.

One of the biggest challenges of building supertall buildings has always been the vertical transportation - the taller the building the further one has to travel to get from the ground floor to the upper floors. Kingdom Tower will have 59 elevators, of which 54 will be single lifts, along with 3 double-deck lifts and 2 triple deck ones. To deal with the distances involved such as the 1 kilometre trip to the building observatory the fastest express elevators will travel at a speed of 10 metres per second, or 22.3 mph if you don't speak metric. Although this sounds impressive the current record holder manages 18 metres per second.

Nonetheless, despite its relatively low speed, there will be a pressure control system fitted that will change the pressure of the elevator car as it travels up or down the shaft to stop passengers from experiencing discomfort allowing them a ride in comfort to the highest observation level in the world.

If everything goes according to plan the developer, the Kingdom Real Estate Company, hopes this, and the rest of the tower, will open in 2017.
Kingdom Tower, Saudi Arabia
Kingdom Tower, Saudi Arabia