A CHANGING SKYLINE:

The emergence of Kuwait City’s sparkling new office towers over the past five years reflects the accelerating pace of growth and development in the nation. These structures also symbolise the country’s changing economic climate, which is producing more business opportunities for contractors, consultants and investors. “Both domestic and foreign companies are engaged in an increasing number of building projects,” Ayad Al Thuwainy, the vice-chairman of the civil engineering and construction firm Ahmadiah Contracting and Trading, told OBG. “Many of these projects entail work on ambitious skyscrapers that demonstrate the local construction sector’s innovative capacity.”

The new headquarters of the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) is expected be one of the country’s most impressive structures once completed in 2013. With a height of 240 metres, the CBK building will have 41 floors and 140,000 sq metres of floor space, with are reserved for a multi-level parking garage. The building’s triangular shape, which was created by the UK-based design firm HOK, will be capped by an all-glass viewing platform offering panoramic views of the Gulf. Other portions of the structure will be made of imported stone to conserve heat during cold desert evenings and maintain cool temperatures in the hot afternoons.

Work on the CBK building is being undertaken in three phases. Initiated in 2005, phase one involved site office construction, shoring, dewatering and extensive excavation. Phase two, which is roughly 90% complete, has been overseen by the China State Construction Corporation, which signed a government contract worth KD111m ($400.15m) in 2008 to carry out the main building works. The third phase, which will require design and furnishings, will be executed by HOK in partnership with the Kuwait-based Pan Arab Consulting Engineers.

Work is also nearing completion at the Al Hamra Tower – a sculpted skyscraper in Kuwait City that ranks as one of the most ambitious architectural projects in the nation’s history. At 412 metres and 77 storeys, Al Hamra is one of the 10 tallest buildings worldwide, and the only one to feature a completely asymmetrical exterior. The twisting tower holds 40 elevators, a luxury mall, one of the world’s highest restaurants and parking for 2000 vehicles.

Overseeing the construction of this complex structure together is Ahmadiah Contracting, a construction firm that has been working on projects in Kuwait since the 1950s, and has extensive expertise in this type of ambitious project. In collaboration with US-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Ahmadiah made several key design choices to produce the tower’s signature curved shape, including a decision to cut spiralling slices from each floor.

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The Report: Kuwait 2012

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