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World's tallest building to top out in 2020

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The Jeddah Tower, previously known as the Mile-High Tower or Kingdom Tower, is on track for completion in 2020

The Jeddah Tower will feature the world's highest observation platform


It’s a race to the top in the world of skyscrapers, where year after year new towers scrape up the top spots on the ‘world’s tallest’ list. This year, the Ping An Finance Centre took spot number 4 at 599 metres high. Back in 2016, the Lotte World Tower became the 5th tallest building at 554 metres.

While the Burj Khalifa is still the world’s tallest at 828 metres, a new tower is rising. In 2020 – construction permitting – the Jeddah Tower will take over the top spot.

Why they’re building it

According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the tower will be the flagship/anchor for the new Jeddah Economic City. This is an economic development that will cover 5.3 million m2 of land to north of the city of Jeddah, the first phase of which is set to start following the completion of the Jeddah Tower.

While such towers often invite criticism – with some critics comparing megatall skyscrapers to modern-day ‘Towers of Babel’ – there are often valid reasons for them going ahead. In the case of the Jeddah Tower, the developers believe it will serve to show the international community that Saudi Arabians aren’t afraid to invest in their own country.


What’s better than a world-beating skyscraper as a show of economic confidence?

Construction marches on

Rising month after month, the tower is currently on track to be completed some time in 2020. Unfortunately, as with many construction projects of this scale, delays haven’t been uncommon.

While ground tests began all the way back in 2008, piling began in April 2013, running through to the end of the year. In September of 2014, above-ground construction finally started. By May 2017, the tower had reached floor 56 – of 252. Amazingly, even at just a quarter of its final height, the building towers (no pun intended) over everything else in the area.

The world’s highest observatory

Height often has its advantages, and one of the stand-out features with this tower will be the observatory. It’s set to be the highest in the world.

At 610 metres above sea level, the architects have planned a circular observation area with glass floors and views of the Red Sea. It’s also going to be open, meaning you’ll be able to breathe in the cooler air.

As an interesting side note, the air conditioning system will take advantage of the cooler air to save power, instead of relying solely on pumping cold water up from the ground.

Understanding tuned mass dampers

Key to most buildings of such staggering heights is a technology called the tuned mass damper. Also known as a harmonic absorber, this is a device that’s placed inside a large structure to prevent structural failure as a result of vibration.

They’re essentially large weights, which also help to mitigate the motion that comes about thanks to high winds. The architects are installing one of these in the Jeddah Tower – essential given the extreme height of the building.

Looking ahead

As we explained in our previous skyscraper article, there’s really no limit at this stage when it comes to height. While the Jeddah Tower will be the tallest building in the world once completed, there are no guarantees that this will be the case for long.

Who’s to say that a tower in China won’t claim the top spot in 10 years time?

See the latest projects and developments in the commercial sector, read relevant market reports and get in touch with the experts in the Commercial Design section.

First published date: 18 October 2017

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