The Al Jawharah tower represents the beginning of something big for the coastline of Jeddah. The Damac Properties project, started last year and currently at ground level, is the first that will be constructed in the wake of a relaxation of building rules that will allow structures as high as 350m along the Corniche.
The tower will be a 48-storey structure of one-to-four-bedroom apartments and five-bedroom penthouse suites, along with three podium levels and one floor for parking and a health club.
The structure resembles two separate curves that have been locked together, with the blue top curve cutting through and being supported by the white curve that is rooted to the ground. The end result will be something that seems top-heavy enough to appear gravity-defying.
The construction work is undertaken by a joint venture of International Centre for Contracting, a Saudi contractor, and Drake & Scull Construction, the umbrella company for all of the civil work carried out by the Dubai-based Drake & Scull International outside the UAE.
In February, Damac Properties announced the completion of the raft foundation , a process that included the pouring of seven million cubic metres of concrete and 420t of steel - as well as the basement levels.
Malek Salhab, senior manager of projects at Damac Properties, says the company began excavation work and the preparation for the foundation in September.
The project is divided into three stages: the tower to the top, and then the two podiums that will be at different heights. The next stage is the ground floor, and this is now progressing.
Saleh Muradweij, executive director at Drake & Scull Construction, says that, due to the unusual shape of the tower, the company will continuously have to change the type of formwork. While tableform will be employed for the slabs, jumping formwork will be used for the core walls.
Some major parts of the tower's construction are still to be decided, in particular the use of post-tensioning. Salhab says the first few floors will use conventional slab, but in order to make good time, the company is considering using post-tensioning for each floor up the tower.
The tower is scheduled for completion at the end of 2012, according to Drake & Scull Construction. Muradweij explains that the value engineering of the project by Salama meant that there was a break on initial construction for a few months. This entailed changes to the structural design, as well as waiting for permits from the municipality.