The 21st Century has witnessed the construction of numerous unusual landmark buildings. Interesting and unique towers have constituted a fair percentage thereof, from Frank Gehry’s Eight Spruce Street in New York City, to the Robot Building in Bangkok, and the Kingdom Center in Riyahd, Saudi Arabia: The United Tower in Bahrain, is a new twist on the theme.
The United Tower really does look strikingly like a brad point drill bit, right down to the razor crisp edges of the lands and smooth faced flutes. Rising from an octagonal base plate, the fifty story structure describes a perfect counter-clockwise twist, such that each land begins and ends in the same plane along the structures vertical axis – where the land leaves the foundation and its terminal end at the top are perfectly aligned. The tower is the newest jewel on the crown that is Bahrain Bay, a massive waterfront development, located on the north shore of Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain. The US$2.5 billion, half million square meter reclamation and construction project culminated in the formation of three artificial islands, and a blend of residential, commercial, tourism, and public facilities, including over three kilometers of quay wall and four kilometers of roads.
Specific engineering and construction information for the tower are somewhat hard to come by. Mohamed Aref Sadeq Engineering Consultants did the design work, though their site included nothing more than a two sentence description of the tower. Similarly, Ahmed Al Qaed Construction, the primary contractor, had a one sentence description. That said, further digging discovered this very interesting site belonging to a young architect and designer named Unni Matthew, who did production and working drawings for the tower, working for ASDC in Bahrian. Poke around in his work, and you see fascinating snippets, from initial sketches and inception, to some very detailed pieces from the working drawings.
As part of the overarching Bahrain Bay Project, the tower and all its neighbors are held to strict regulations regarding sustainability. The development authority espouses a relatively broad-minded view in this regard; they couch sustainability in terms of not only environmental concerns, but economic and social as well. They refer to the project as a “Smart City, conscious of the need to both preserve precious resources and to use carefully sourced materials for the construction. Therefore, all third party developers have to comply with extremely strict criteria.”
In keeping with this master development scheme, the United Tower will house a five-star Wyndham hotel and meeting facilities, as well as commercial office and retail space. Cooperation Investment House SPC, the managing body for the property, states that the tower will provide “an exceptional work environment, ideal for businesses requiring a presence in the Kingdom.”
Although GulfBusiness.com notes that “Bahrain’s office rental rates have remained flat as the Gulf state continues to witness political unrest and struggles with oversupply in the market,” clearly the developers are banking on the kingdom’s relatively open economy, highly valued currency, and Manama’s existing heavy investment in banking and tourism to draw business to the United Tower.