Skidmore, Owings and Merrill completes curling Al Hamra Firdous Tower in Kuwait
Described as a ‘enshrouded figure’ by architects and engineers Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), the recently completed Al Hamra Firdous Tower in Kuwait City now spirals towards the gloriously sunning skies over the Persian Gulf. Three glass veils on the north, east and west sides of the form are counteracted by a near-opaque stone wall on the south face, shielding the volume’s inhabitants from the often harsh glare of the Kuwait sun.
This south-facing wall decreases the solar radiation felt by the building and defends the interior space from critical environmental conditions. The reinforced walling system is punctuated with sheltered windows which offer stunning views out towards the Arabian Gulf.
Enveloped in the Al Hamra’s unique form are residential and office units, entered through a spacious 20m-high lobby with a high articulated lamella structure supporting the tower and articulating the space below. Sky-bridges draw links across each floor, creating a ‘dramatic spatial experience’ for the buildings users.
Of their elegant, curling design, SOM explains: “The point at the apex of the tower not only resolves this complex geometry of the carved flared walls but also implies the continuation of the sculptural form infinitely upwards. The result reveals a rich, monolithic stone at the south wall framed by the graceful, twisting ribbons of torqued walls, defining the iconic form of the tower.”
The external form of the volume is an arresting new silhouette on Kuwait City’s skyline and is instantly recognisable, its 412m-high frame ranking 13th on the Council on Tall Building and Urban Habitat’s list of the top 100 tallest buildings in the world. The register now has two buildings in Kuwait City, with Fentress Architects’ 300m-tall Arraya Tower coming in at number 56.