Headquarters Business Park

An “Off The Grid” High Rise

The site for this 55-storey mixed-use development is a deep rectangular plot with a shorter west frontage onto the Jeddah Corniche and immediate views out to the Red Sea.

The brief and site parameters called for 75 000m2 of prestigious office space for sale served by generous foyers, shared conveniences and amenities, high speed vertical services and ample parking.

Poor ground conditions and a high water table, necessitated the parking be provided in a podium stretching the length of the site on which the tower could sit. The podium is seen as a horizontal element which could be used to connect the two extremes of the site – the east, a face to the city and the west, an embrace to the Red Sea. A smaller 12-storey tower accommodating an “entrance gateway” office space, is located on the east vehicular accessed end of the site. This references the city and offers views up the tall tower in the west across the landscaped roof of the podium. The podium is a robust, solid form, clad in local sandstone and roots the complex to the ground and its context. The tower rests delicately above on the podium on angled pilotis – the detail creates the necessary visual separation between the function and forms. A public open concourse takes the form of the landscaped roof terrace, flowing between pilotis and extending outward toward the east entrance tower.

The location of the site, which is right on the Red Sea coastline, meant that exposure to the sun, glare from the sea, wind and dust was extreme without much seasonal variation.

The city municipal services could also not guarantee reliable electricity, water or sanitation services by the time the project was slated for commencement.

The design of the 55-storey office building therefore set out to be an “off the grid” tower. The shape of the site was long and thin (30m x 300m running E-W).

The orientation and shape of the tower were therefore worked out specifically to deal with the glare of the sun and inspired the triangulated shape that faces its smallest most screened portion due west. The eastern orientation slides in diminishing scale, reducing the exposure of the corners of the building. The civil defence prerequisite for a helipad was also used as a massive sun-shielding element that screens the huge cooling roof garden during much of the afternoon.

Extremely good U and SC values were utilised by the double glazed curtain wall, which also made as much use of fritted screening patterns to further diffuse heat and light. Horizontal louvers were used extensively throughout the building to cut heat loading and provided shade at the critical “head height” zone of workers.

Although Saudi Arabia has no current Green Building codes, the building followed LEED principles and therefore has to accommodate building services that explored and made use of many unusual solutions to allow the large tower to be independent from all other sources.

Power is provided by five water-cooled generators concealed in the basement with a complex exhaust system that filters through 12 systems and ejects air at safe levels above 50 metres.

Drinking water is provided by pumps obtaining sea water up against the sea edge and is desalinated within the single basement service area.

Air conditioning is provided using reverse osmosis on the sea water and discharged through deep aquifers. A sewerage treatment plant is also provided within the basement service area.

All fire fighting equipment is self preserved from the water tanks on levels above 220 metres. Emergency back-up lighting is run off huge UPSs powered by solar power.

What this shows is that “low tech” countries, where emerging market cities’ have a demand in high-end international products for high demand users, sustainable, well priced buildings are able to be delivered.



US$ 280,000,000


April 2015


Jeddah, Saudi Arabia