Saudi Bin Ladin Group (SBG) recently commissioned a Lebanese consulting firm to test the materials necessary to build the world’s next tallest building in Jeddah. Among other things, Advanced Construction Technology Services (ACTS) has to figure out how to pump 500,000 cubic meters of concrete 1km into the sky.
The 1km high Kingdom Tower, if it is ever actually built, will be 173 meters (568 feet) taller than the world’s current tallest building in Dubai – the Burj Khalifa.
As one might imagine, building such a tall structure comes with a suite of engineering challenges – especially given its location along the Red Sea. With a tremendous footprint of 530,000 square meters (5.7 million square feet), the 200 story tower is expected to cost at least US$ 1.23 billion.
ACTS has worked in Saudi Arabia in the past, so they were a good fit for this quality control position, and they are devoting a lot of manpower to the project. Their chief task will be to find concrete that is strong enough to pump 1,000 meters high.
Oh, and the project will require a measly 80,000 tons of steel.
“The appointment of ACTS as an independent testing agency for one of the most challenging engineering structures in the world, is a vote of trust in ACTS’ capabilities and extensive experience in materials testing and engineering,” ACTS Chairman Khaled Awad told Saudi Gazette.
“We will be investing our experience and knowledge to provide accurate, traceable and reliable test information in the largest megatall building in the world.”
Now that we’re done with the facts, we have to ask – what is the point of such a flagrant misuse of natural resources?
An additional 160 floors of residential apartments could be used to provide housing for Jeddah’s expanding population, but at a time when species are going extinct, sea levels are rising, weather systems are changing, and water and food are scarce, surely the Saudis can come up with a more humble way of providing for their people?
But this isn’t about housing. If the Burj is any indicator, living in the tower will be extraordinarily expensive, and therefore reserved for the elite. No, we have to think this is about pride – the scourge of our planet.
Saudi wants to be the best, better than the Emiratis, better than the West, and better than Asia, where soaring skyscrapers seem to be built every other week. Even if this bombastic project requires great engineering prowess, it has no redeeming qualities.
Not only will all that steel and all that concrete require untold quantities of precious energy and water, but that money could be so much better spent. Think Syrian refugees, for example.
More than one million people a couple of countries over barely have shoes for their feet or blankets to keep them warm, much less a penthouse apartment 1,000 meters up in the sky.