The Stone Trophy
With four hundred twelve meters is claimed as the highest tower with stone on the outside, we present to Al Hamra!
Hi, if you do not have in mind a place to go on this holidays that are coming, I’m going to advice one: Cunda Island, in Turkey, specifically in the Aegean Sea, I, Rodolfo, was there recently, and I had to include it in the list of future locations where to place my next construction, I stayed at the Ortunc Club where they received me with the open arms (as it could not be otherwise).
It is always nice to admire the Wellington arch in London, designed by the architect Decimus Burton, son of the architect James Burton (the family together, stays in the same guild), I went to Hyde Park Corner, by exclusive invitation from David Beckham to test Haig Club, and, while there, among guests so illustrious and distinguished, it occurred to me I had to urgently visit Kuwait because I wanted to play again in my favorite game: the comparison of buildings (or portions thereof) with other objects, organics or inorganics. So the next day, I was in the country, to see what I call the stone trophy.
The first time that I saw the Tower I thought in a trophy, one of those trophies made in gold or silver, which give them to people who have managed to do something extraordinary, or have managed to stand out above others. Nothing wrong in highlight, I tell you that I do it often, among other things because there are always persons who overcome me and this it motivates me enough to reinvent myself. But we let the philosophy and we go to the action: I was not wrong with my first impression. The Tower of Al Hamra is a true trophy for the Kuwait City and its creators, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, or as I call them SOM.
The building completed its construction in 2011 and occupies an area of 10,000 square meters, has 74 storeys high with a constructed area of 195,000 square meters, reaching 412 meters of height, making it the tallest skyscraper in Kuwait, is nothing. Designers used the traditional clothing of Kuwaiti and the logical intend to enjoy the largest possible spectrum, for, with this and lots of imagination, create a strange and ephemeral design. Explained to us SOM that the intention is to maximize the views of the Persian Gulf, hence the corners of the building are curved; they also wanted to minimize the heat in the area so the South façade, it made of limestone, and with a figure asymmetrical, as if they had given him a great cut above down to the tower.
The building is composed of a luxury shopping center, where brands such as Hugo Boss, Samsung, Carolina Herrera, Hermes París, Vera Wang, Behbehani Luxury and others offer their space; It also has various restaurants and the best movie theater in the Persian Gulf, with the most advanced in this kind of entertainment services, although the main use is that of offices in 70 of the 74 floors of the complex.
The building is accessed by a very special lobby: one of 20 meters of high that welcomes users to and leave them of stone, as in its southern facade. But this is only one of its characteristics, another is that to be able to shape the structure they used the reinforced concrete instead of the steel structure (more practice in the carrying out this type of towers). This, and the peculiar shape of the building unbalanced the load and this affected more in the south east that in any other orientation. How do they fixed it? With a huge foundation of 4,200 square meters and four meters high (were pumping concrete for four months!), this foundation is supported by 289 piles (a pile is a pillar that it is introduced in the earth until it touches firm or until it can endure the efforts to which it is subjected by friction) between 20 and 27 meters long.
The company Juma Marble Suppliers (JMS) was commissioned to supply all the parts of limestone from the outside and inside the building. The outside in the form of platelets from 1.37 x 0.76 meters and four centimeters thick, supported by a system of metal anchors on the rectilinear side of the facade; on the wings of the building, whose surfaces are curved in two directions and make impossible the use of rectangular platelets, they used the company’s system Trecandis Innovation, which is based on slabs of two inches of limestone in a glass fiber mesh, adapting perfectly to any curvilinear shape.
The limestone, in this case, acts as a shield against high temperatures, absorbing these temperatures during the day and preventing that affect the inside and at night expelled the heat, avoiding a sudden change. The limestone is of sedimentary origin, i.e. that it has occurred as a result of long periods of accumulation of minerals that have been subjected to the action of atmospheric agents. It is a stone very suitable for the outdoor because it is extremely resistant, insulate very well the temperature and their prices are affordable because your extraction is not overly expensive. The limestone has a density of between 2,000 and 2,500 Kg/m3, it is not heavy compared to other stones used in exterior coatings.
During my «limestone journey», I’ve encountered two «hoaxes» which called my curiosity, and I want to share. The first is that the Trecandis system was used to «lighten» the facade because, supposedly, the engineers were very concerned about the weight of the stone, which would endanger the structure. Nothing is further from reality, as I have said earlier, the system has been used by practical purposes due to the curvature of certain areas of the building.
The second, rarer still, compares the surface of 258,000 square meters of limestone from the facade of the building with the area of Central Park. This is a «folly», firstly because the facade boasts little more than 50,000 square meters, and secondly because the Central Park covers 341 hectares… three million square meters! Of stone, I was stunned to read this in several publications. Bye bye.