Foster + Partners' tapering tower keeps office workers in the shade
High-profile UK firm Foster + Partners recently completed work on an attractive new supertall skyscraper in Kuwait. Rising to a height of 300 m (984 ft), the office building features a tapering overall form and is defined by distinctive exterior fins designed to help shade it from the harsh Middle-Eastern Sun.
The National Bank of Kuwait is located in Kuwait's burgeoning Sharq financial district. It's the joint second-tallest building in the country, the 38th-tallest in the Middle East, and roughly 194th-tallest worldwide. It also happens to meet the exact height required to be considered a supertall skyscraper.
Its overall form brings to mind the underside of a whale, or perhaps even a bullet, like KPF's China Resources Headquarters, but is actually inspired by a traditional sailing boat. Two driving concerns behind the design were to maximize views and to help reduce energy use by shading the interior.
"A series of concrete fins along the Sun's path extend the full height of the tower, providing structural support while contributing to the environmental strategy through shading," explained Foster + Partners. "By tapering the floorplates inwards towards the base, the design maximizes floor space at the upper levels and provides self-shading as the overhanging floorplates shelter the offices below."
The 63-floor building serves as the headquarters of the National Bank of Kuwait and gathers all of the bank's corporate employees under one roof.
Most of the interior is given over to office space, though it also hosts a large entrance lobby, multiple sky lobbies, which serve as informal meeting areas, as well as amenities including a double-height restaurant, a gym, and a ballroom and auditorium. A Chairman's Club meeting space situated near the top is by far the most impressive space though, and boasts spectacular glazing that frames choice views of the city.
The tower, which also involved BuroHappold handling engineering duties, follows Foster + Partners' recent plans to build another supertall skyscraper in New York City, and a sustainable timber high-rise in Tokyo.
Source: Foster + Partners