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Co- operation between architect and contractor has been exemplary, as it needed to be, given the initial design delay. However, Ahmadiah Construction and SOM didn't always agree. An intriguing example Abuhaidar gives is the two- metre ' zipper zone' that had to be left uncast between the tower and the mall to allow the former to settle without affecting the foundation of the adjacent building. " We tested the piles to 3,000 tons, from which we worked out that the piles would perform individually and settlement would be around 40 millimetres," says Abuhaidar. " SOM thought it should be more and hired a specialist to peer- review the analysis, concluding that the piles would act as a single entity and around 150mm settlement could be expected." Quite a difference, but Ahmadiah Construction did further research and stuck to its guns. " To cut a long story short, with 80 percent of the tower completed, total settlement is currently about 27mm and should not exceed 30mm." Abuhaidar is on schedule with the construction, with 1,500 people currently working on site. Quite an achievement, since a major redesign had to be made. 28 www. bus- ex. com July 09

Ahmadiah Construction July 09 www. bus- ex. com 29 " The building was designed to have a 12- metre column-free space round the core, but the main entrance is bigger than that," he explains. " So we ended up with seven columns inside that space. The owner wanted the 20- metre- wide entrance to be column free." How then could this be achieved and transmit the huge load laterally rather than vertically? " M/ s. SOM finally decided to take these seven columns and gradually, over the first fifteen floors, shift them 8 metres outward so that on the ground floor they are outside the building. On the upper floors, with a height of 4.2 metres, we didn't have a problem, but the entrance hall is 24 metres high, and there the columns had to be tied to the core somehow." In the end, a complex ' lamella' canopy in unclad reinforced concrete was formed and installed. It's terrific engineering, having to incorporate a sliding connection at the core itself to allow for settlement; it is also very beautiful, as our illustration shows. But it meant that the entrance hall alone took more than a year to complete. The marriage of function and design permeate the entire Al Hamra project at every point, though the stunning entrance lamella is what most people will probably notice. Another example is in the cladding, which is in Jura stone from Germany, both in 40mm thick stone mechanically fixed to flat walls and mosaic panels in the same material glued to flaring curved walls. Right now the Al Hamra Tower already dominates Kuwait, having reached the 70th floor. The 11- storey car park is currently nine floors overground, while the shopping centre has been completed. Topping- out is scheduled for late 2009, with the Tower opening in the 4th quarter of 2010. Kuwaitis will love it- not least because it gives them no fewer than nine cinemas to replace their beloved Al- Hamra and Firdous picture house. - Editorial research by Jason Martin