Situated on the 49th floor of the 236-metre high 'Headquarters Business Park' in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) is the Al-Dabbagh Group. Pentagram London designed the interior of the main office with a spectacular six and a half metre high curved wall of wood-framed glass triangles. Smeulders Interieurgroep took on the challenge to realise the wall in collaboration with glass specialists Si-X, Tobias Nagel for 3D modeling, and ABT as structural design engineer.
An inner wall on the 52nd floor has to meet fundamentally different requirements compared to an inner wall at ground level. Façade panels can fracture or break and need replacing for example. Suddenly facing a severe storm (wind force 8) at that altitude is not uncommon in Jeddah.
Glass consultant Erwin ten Brincke from ABT: "We had to make the wall withstand against wind speeds of up to 70 kilometres per hour. And since the wall is 6.5 metres high, this turned out to be quite a challenge."
Ten Brincke immediately fell for this magnificent project. However, he was unable to predict its feasibility. "But I considered: we have some of the smartest people on our side; Smeulders, who is great at building elements; SI-X, who is a glass construction company lead by an architect; a great 3D modeller; and myself, with the necessary expertise from our Glass group... I was confident that we were able to come up with a suitable joint solution."
The designers first created a 3D model of the entire wall, which was then converted to a 3D structural analysis model. "It is customary to regard a convex wall as a flat wall as this is easier to analyse. But a curved wall is able to distribute forces much more efficient in comparison to a straight wall. Having said this, I even doubt whether a straight wall would have been feasible in the first place. So we first made sure to prepare the computational workflow. This implies a relatively larger investment in engineering in the initial design stage, but results in added value at the end of the design process. It's not about your price, it's about how much you're worth."