Will the Jeddah Tower Ever be Finished?


    For the last century, architects around the world have strived to design the world’s tallest buildings. They have gradually grown taller, and the current largest in the world – the Burj Khalifa – stands at a stunning 829.8 metres. It has held the record since 2010, but it could be knocked off its perch soon.

    There have long been plans to outdo the size of the Dubai-based skyscraper, with the Jeddah Tower set to be considerably taller. However, development on the Jeddah-based project has stalled, and there is now uncertainty over whether it will continue.

    Tower Set to be First 1KM-High Building

    When the Jeddah Tower project first began it was known as the Mile High Tower in 2007. It then became the Kingdom Tower and was renamed to its current appellation in 2015. It was clear that Saudi Arabia wanted to outdo its middle Eastern rival, the United Arab Emirates, and building on the site began in 2013. The skyscraper is planned to be at least one kilometre high, meaning that it will be significantly bigger than the Burj Khalifa if it is ever completed.

    The date of completion is unknown, but experts say that it won’t be any earlier than 2026. The project stalled in 2018 due to labour issues with a contractor. The previous plan had been to finish building by 2021, but the work is now at least four years behind schedule. There are question marks over whether the building will ever be finished, or whether it will be scrapped.

    Moving Away from Traditional Building Solutions

    There are various challenges to building skyscrapers of this height, and the people involved often have to throw everything they know about building out of the window in favour of new-fangled methods. Some solutions for heavy-duty projects on smaller buildings, such as concrete sealants that fix cracks in walls, need to be adjusted. That kind of product may work for ground-level brickwork and DIY jobs, but it’s hardly going to do the trick on a gigantic needle that protrudes way up into the outer reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere.

    Architects and contractors on buildings like the Jeddah Tower are constantly facing new issues and challenges, and it’s often a riddle trying to solve them. For example, there are limits to vertical transportation, with the building swaying due to wind. There’s also the problem with super-column settling, which can lead floors to become uneven because of the fact that concrete shrinks when hydrated.

    Because a building of this size has never been made before, it’s hard to say whether the people behind the Jeddah Tower will be able to overcome all the obstacles in their way.

    What Other Massive Buildings are Planned?

    Architects around the world are working on other projects that are close in size to the Burj Khalifa or even bigger. Merdeka 188, for instance, is a 678.9-metre tall structure in Kuala Lumpur, which is set to open in 2023. When it does, it will become the planet’s second tallest building, surpassing the Shanghai Tower at 632 metres tall.

    There are also many concepts that have been proposed but are not yet under construction. The X-Seed 4000 is one idea that was put forth in 1995. It would be four kilometres high and would be used to house up to one million people in Tokyo. Another proposed project is the Dubai City Tower, which was conceived in 2008 and would stand at 2.4 km if it came to fruition.

    Everything is up in the air with the Jeddah Tower at the moment – except the tower itself. It’s hard to say when it will be finished, but it would be unfortunate if it was cancelled. That seems unlikely, as its developers are keen to break records.

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