The Sail Tower, Jeddah

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Project Info
The Sail Tower, Jeddah
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Estimated Construction Completion Date: 2015
Square Footage: 646,000
Number of Rooms: 242

Tall Building Award, 2009
MIPIM Architectural Future Projects Award

Inspired by its prominent location directly on the Red Sea, this project explores the concept of the "architectural sail" as a multifunctional architectonic element that responds to the essential influences of program, site and climate to create a unique expression of texture and light.

The project, situated along the Corniche in Jeddah, marks the transition between the desert landscape and the Red Sea, and extends the growth of waterfront development advancing north from the old city center. The recent growth of Jeddah as a resort destination for both Saudis as well as foreigners has raised the matter of how to create successful hospitality environments that address both climatic and cultural issues.

The brief calls for a 60,000 square meter mixture of luxury hotel functions, serviced apartments and condominiums, with below grade parking for 600 cars. The client requested that the tower be as tall as zoning permitted. In contrast to the ubiquitous "shape-making" that characterizes recent commercial development in places in the Gulf, the building is a simple, slender rectangle, oriented along the E/W axis to optimize solar exposure, shade the entrance court to the north and maximize views to the water. Major program elements are organized as a continuous ribbon from below grade to penthouse, becoming more private as they rise. Correspondingly, balcony size increases with height to create outdoor rooms at the upper residential levels.

This gradual deepening of exterior space and rotating of the architectural sails to open to the view creates a dramatic pattern and texture for the skin of the building while giving privacy between adjacent rooms, orienting views to the water, and limiting the negative effects of sun and wind. Because the panels become perpendicular at the top of the building where the balconies are deepest, the building transforms from an expression that is primarily surface at its base to one that is primarily void as the enclosure dematerializes with height. The sails in turn become sources of light in the evening, with integrated LED fixtures providing a soft glow that can be programmed to create a dynamic, flowing array throughout the entire surface of the building. This approach, based on innovative tectonics rather than formal gesture, results in a unique architectural expression with a clear sense of place and identity.

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