Jabal Omar Towers
Jabal Omar Towers Mecca,
Saudi Arabia

The proposed development at Jabal Omar uses the mountain crest to define the site into 2 parts, one facing al-Haram and the other sloping away from al-Haram. The parts of the development facing al-Haram contains the concourse and pedestrian links to al-Haram. Hotel and apartment towers are situated over the mountain crest, limited by our new “rim” height for maximum views. The Western side of the development is for car parking and vehicular access.

The Haram is surrounded by five mountains that forms an existing “rim” to the Al-Haram area. Our urban design strategy is to build the inevitable high-rises fixed by a height-limit that will create a new “protective rim” around al-Haram. This will avoid a rampant disorganized skyline around the holy area. A new benchmark building height is thus derived from the average height of the five mountains (450 meter) as the new height limit for future development of the sites surrounding al-Haram. Only one or two exceptional towers at preselected locations may exceed this height limit to give some diversity to the skyline resembling the minarets of the traditional mosque. The towers have single rooms or apartments that are shaped for maximum facade area with views towards al-Haram, using a number of tower topologies (i.e. the ‘A’, ‘V’, ‘H’, ‘M’ and composite shapes).

The concourse, a central promenade, at level 2 acts as a “collector” to collect pilgrims from all the towers, who are directed to the 2 “chutes” to al-Haram. A combination of elevators, escalators, travelators and pedestrian routes is used for reducing the travel time. Travel time analyses have been studied to verify the time needed to reach the Haram from the rooms of each tower. Alternative prayer zones are also provided. The hotel towers have ramps within the central atrium that connects to prayer rooms located at every 5 floors. A prayer terrace on the roof of the concourse offers an alternative prayer zone: a public, open area shaded by buildings and palms planted around it with a view to al-Haram. Tower built forms with single-loaded rooms or apartments are shaped for maximum facade area with views towards al-Haram, using a number of tower topologies (i.e. the ‘A’, ‘V’, ‘H’, ‘M’ and composite shapes). As a passive low-energy air-conditioning design, “evaporative cooling shafts” are located within the towers to provide cool air to the circulation spaces and to supplement the air conditioning of the rooms and to the green gardens below.

A green park environment is created for pilgrims, by landscaping of the car parking block roofs and the concourse roof. These are connected via landscaped bridges. The water supply for greening of the development comes from the recycled “gray” water of the development. The concept seeks to create a balanced “ecosystem” on the site of both organic and inorganic aspects of the ecological environment. At its simplistic level of sustainable design, the landscaping over the roofs literally provides a “green” scheme. By covering the parking areas with earth and greenery the parking can be excluded from the plot ratio calculation; thereby increasing the Developer’s permitted commercial area.


9 photos and 1 drawing