The Headquarters Business ParkEdit profile
The site for this 50 storey office tower and mixed use development is a deep and thin rectangular plot with its shorter west frontage bordering the Jeddah Corniche. The municipality intends allowing projects of special status along the Corniche with relaxed height restrictions. The brief and site parameters called for +/- 75 000 sq meters of prestigious and efficient office space for sale served by generous foyers, shared conveniences and amenities, good lifting service and ample parking. Ground conditions [consisting mostly of coral], a high water table, and the long deep site dimensions necessitated that the parking be provided in a raised podium. The 8 storey parking podium provides a platform on which to place the raised up and cantilevered tower and has a horizontal emphasis which perceptually connects the two sides of the site – the east a face to the city and the west a face to the Red Sea. A 13 storey office tower anchors the far end of the site. The building’s entrance faces the city and offers views up to the 50 storey tower and across the landscaped podium roof from its west facade. The podium structure is a robust, solid form clad in local limestone and is intended to root the complex to the ground and to its context – it is a solid plinth on which the glass office tower is poised. The hovering tower rests delicately on raking, inverted V piloti on the strong podium base – the detail creates the necessary visual separation between forms, and puts the perceived springing point of the tower 10 floors up. A public open concourse is located on the landscaped roof terrace of the podium. Tables and chairs of the restaurants are gathered between the piloti of the tower and are shaded by the floating mass of the tower above and by retractable canvas sails which scroll out from the tower soffit. The landscaped roof terrace hosts public events and promotions and serves office employees and visitors – it is essentially a reinstated ground plane. The tower was shaped through a process of tailoring the building form to the specific spatial needs of the client and the key defining site parameters and location. The long site stretched between city and sea called for a form which could link the two. A long rectangle on plan, in addition to being an economic form from an office-spatial point of view, also meant that all spaces on the floor-plate receive and benefit from access to natural light. To synthesise horizontal and vertical design responses the building form was tempered to have a more directional emphasis, and result in a specific and contextual gesture towards the Red Sea. Each subsequent decision regarding elevation treatment and detailing of the facades, in addition to providing necessary solar shading, has been to reinforce this directional emphasis. The tapering tower suited the client’s requirement for more prestigious space at the top of the tower; the form provided them with a specific and unique profile around which they could structure their marketing. The taper achieves and emphasises the height desired for the status of the development and the building crown accommodates a destination restaurant and lounge; and the helipad required by authorities for evacuation. A unitized glass cladding system dresses the facades. The glass specified has low shading coefficients and good daylight transmittance and a ceramic fired geometric fritted pattern fused to the glass surface accounts for 50% of the façade surface area. A more mirrored surface faces the harsh west condition and playfully reflects the rough waters of the red sea. For the most part glass is shaded by projecting horizontal shading louvers and expressed feature caps. Breaks or bites out of the building form are double volume, sheltered, landscaped gardens which shade more comfortable and marketable office space behind them. The combined strategies of passive façade shading; efficient mechanical, electrical and water systems and environmentally discerning and responsible materials specification will make this one of the few environmentally responsive buildings in Saudi Arabia. The grand drop-off on the corniche is raised above and overlooks the promenade and a sloping water feature takes up the change in level and flows from the building out towards the sea. The drop off is situated beneath the cantilevered tower edge and access to the foyer is through four immense columns supporting the heavy structure above. The entrance façade of the podium is a folded plane of glass behind which are situated the shared more public amenities of the programme. The plane of glass is bookended by forward-leaning pylons which are a part of the sandstone podium mass and assert the presence of the establishment on the Corniche. To maximize efficiency of the floorplate and provide good lifting service to the restricted floorplates at the top of the tower, the core was equipped with shafts capable of accommodating new TWIN lifting technology. The TWINs are accessed from a double lobby combining ground and first floors: 4 lift shafts with lifts of higher speed for upper floors and 8 for lower floors. The combination will also offer fair to good lifting service if conventional high speed elevators operating off a destination control system are used. The public programme is accessed via a slower moving observation lift which climbs the diagonally raking secondary core. The glass lift allows its passengers views over the city lights of Jeddah and, illuminated at night, advertises the presence of the destination restaurant to the city. The observation lift passes additional amenities accessible to the public on the 8th and 27th floors. The commitment of this project to a public programme differentiates it from typical private commercial developments and gives it a unique profile in its context – it is an extension of the Corniche, an attraction and contributor to public life. At the same time it is hoped its recognisable silhouette will be entrenched on the Jeddah skyline and in the memory of Jeddah’s inhabitants as a distinctive icon.