The main office of Al-Dabbagh Group is located on the 49th floor of the 236 metre high 'Headquarters Business Park’ in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia). Pentagram London designed the interior of the office with a spectacular six and a half meters high, curved wall of timber-framed glass triangles. Smeulders Interieurgroep took up the challenge to realise this wall, in collaboration with glass specialist Si-X, 3D-modelling by Tobias Nagel, and ABT as structural design engineer.
Si-X, creators of glass architecture, developed a modular structural element composed of glass and timber. The structural synergy of these materials greatly reduced the number of components (initially 10,000) to 3,600.
In order to build a perfectly fitting wall, glue joints were preferred as method of construction. Since the tolerances were tight, dowel-type connections were applied. The dowels guarantee perfect dimensional stability, strength and rapid assembly. An internal wall on the 52nd floor must meet requirements that are fundamentally different from an interior wall at ground level. There is of course always the risk that a façade panel gets broken and needs to be replaced. Wind velocities of up to 70 km/h can occur at this height if façade windows were opened or broken. The question was, therefore, whether the glued dowel connections would be able to resist such wind speeds.
Tensile tests in the ABT-lab
In order to estimate the strength of the connection and to determine the weakest link in the system, ABT first made a three-dimensional finite element analysis model of the joint. Would the employed plywood be sufficiently strong and stiff, or would delamination occur? Tensile tests in the ABT laboratory showed that the connections were sufficiently strong and robust. The curved wall furthermore ensured a favourable distribution of forces. The wall has since been fitted in the warm and humid conditions of Saudi Arabia. And proves to be a beautiful and safe structure.