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British team proposes world's tallest building – in Iraq

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London office of AMBS Architects reveals plans for 1,152m structure in Basra, which would outstrip the 1km-high Kingdom Tower

Commissioned by the Basra Governorate, the ‘sustainable vertical city’ would be taller than the 828m-high Burj Khalifa by SOM and the 1,000m-tall Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, which is due to complete in 2018.

The 1,550,908m² scheme, which comprises four interconnected towers, has been dubbed ‘The Bride’ and will have 241 storeys topped by an 188m antenna.

According to the London- and Baghdad-based practice, the tower will be a ‘one of a kind landmark’ in a new downtown area, and forms part of a wider programme to stop urban sprawl around the growing, oil-rich business centre.

Project information

  • Tower 1 – 241 floors / 964m high – 650,206m²
  • Tower 2 – 181 floors / 724m high – 475,220m²
  • Tower 3 – 121 floors / 484m high – 300,224m²
  • Tower 4 – 61 floors / 244m high – 125,248m²

A spokesman for the practice said: ‘Supertall towers are inefficient. [They] need to be very deep at the base with a very thin top, which isn’t functional.

‘[But] the Bride keeps a constant typical section from top to bottom – maximum space efficiency and repetition to reduce the cost.’

He added: ‘The Bride is designed to be a “round the clock” city, with offices, hotels, whole neighbourhoods, commercial centres, sky squares, parks, gardens and its own rail network. It is expected that revenues will far exceed the costs.’

AMBS's proposed Bride tower in Basra - circulation diagram

AMBS’s proposed Bride tower in Basra - circulation diagram - click to enlarge

Architect’s view

‘The project was highly confidential for security reasons, until recently. Basra province in south Iraq has remained very quiet and removed from political and religious tensions. Having the bulk of Iraq’s oil reserves, it is becoming one of the fastest growing business centres in the world. Basra is also the main port of Iraq and home of the Mesopotamian marshes. There is huge environmental and historical value on this land that is believed to be the exact location of the Garden of Eden.

‘The two key objectives addressed were safety and efficiency, already rendering a generic “supertall tower” unsuitable. The brief also demanded a variety of sustainable measures to create a net zero-energy development, independent of the city’s electrical grid. This project forced the design team to go back to the very fundamentals of architecture and engineering. The brief developed into four conjoined towers creating a more logical and stable structure with multiple access and escape routes via horizontal and vertical circulation. Tower 1, located on the south side, is the tallest. It is shaded by a glazed canopy known as ‘the veil’. The towers are connected at many levels creating ‘sky gardens’ and ‘sky squares’.

‘In contrast to a conventional tower, The Bride will be a place that may be enjoyed by all, not only for the ones that live and work there, but also the rest of the public. Supertall towers are perceived as an object in the distance. An alien planted in the city, disconnected from the urban scale at ground level. This scheme, on the other hand, will be conceived as a city itself, both vertically and horizontally from the ground. It will be enjoyed by thousands of people in endless ways, within it, on it or under it. From walking in the vast shaded parks and promenades at ground level, to having lunch or shopping in a sky square hundreds of metres above sea level.

‘The towers are divided into vertical sections. They all share a similar upper, middle and lower section with each mid-section having 30 floors with a sky avenue in the centre. This avenue is three stories high with mezzanines that contain all amenities, services and a train station for the local community. This is where the trains’ very fast double-decker lifts arrive, and from there local shuttle lifts service all 12 floor zones above and below.’


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