Small pieces of 24 carat gold cover this architectural marvel that crowns the tallest building of Saudi Arabia.
If we separate the obvious, that is to say, that in the world there is no building more unique than its own, or, failing that, in which one resides, works, enjoys or spends its time in the most prosperous way (personally or economically speaking), we have the arbitrary, what the human being has achieved above the ideas and below our possibilities, that is, the most incredible building you have ever seen or imagined, the Abraj Al Bait.
We can understand that you have heard about it, although it is not the tallest, it is the third highest in the planet, the first in Saudi Arabia, it is one of the best situated complexes, just in front of Mecca, where a of the largest religious pilgrimages in the world, is the largest constructed area in the world, with, nothing more and nothing less than a million and a half square meters.
The construction of the most famous skyscraper complex of the place was executed between the years 2,004 and 2,011, and is considered the most expensive, it was invested (according to official sources) almost 13,000 million euros, which is about 8.667 euros per meter square, a bargain, of course. The tallest tower, called Makkah Clock Royal Tower, reaches 601 meters, has 120 residential floors, which include those of the Fairmont Hotel, is assorted with 96 elevators and its structure is mixed, reinforced concrete and steel.
However, you still have not read the most impressive of this building complex, which was conceived by the Rasch SL architecture group, specialized in lightweight structures, for its coronation. At the top of the tower is located the largest clock in the world, with dimensions of 43 x 43 meters, in fact, is not «the», are «the» largest watches in the world, since there are four, one by Each facade of the skyscraper, each with a weight of 21 tons.
To give us an idea of the size of the clock, you just have to estimate one piece of information: it is 35 times bigger than Big Ben (without words, eh?). Above this wonderful way of seeing the time, stands a metal extension that holds a half moon covered by 24 carat gold, a part of the building that is also reachable by the human being and serves as an observatory.
For lovers of numbers there are more: the steel structure of the upper part of the tower weighs 12,000 tons. The clock is adorned with more than 98 million glass mosaics of different colors (yes, you read correctly). At night, more than two million LEDs (always LED’s) illuminate the clock making it visible to more than eight kilometers. The moon, covered with gold mosaics, is made with fiberglass panels.
The tower has 3,000 square meters of glass, with a thickness of 65 millimeters and capable of withstanding forces of 170 kilograms per square meter. In total, the surface covered by glass mosaics reaches 43,000 square meters, of which 13,000 are made with a 24-carat gold foil. By the way, at this point they have placed 160 speakers, with enough power to be audible 7 kilometers away.
Premier Composite Technologies, a supplier of composite structures, was responsible for the execution of the coatings of the tower, they tell us that the hands of the watches are built with carbon fiber and that they reach 22 and 17 meters long. The half moon was executed with carbon fiber and fiberglass and is 23 meters in diameter, becoming the largest crescent moon ever built.
This half moon is very light considering its size, and was designed in five pieces to be transported to 600 meters altitude with guarantees, in addition, it is free of steel structures, which makes it less heavy, as explained by the company, is built similar to a sailing boat. Its interior is divided into four floors that are used for prayers and rest, include office, kitchen and bathroom, and even bedrooms.
Another company, essential in this mega-project, is the Italian Trend, native of the always longed for and incredible Venice. They explain to us that, in total, more than 400 million pieces of glass were used on the faces of the watch. His contribution cost about 18 million euros, thanks to this commission the company implemented a new automated production line, mandatory if they wanted to finish the order on schedule: mid-year 2011.
The 24-karat gold mosaics are from the Aureo Modern range, each individual tile consists of three layers of gold leaf interspersed with a glass support 4 millimeters thick, covering the outside another layer of glass, this time blown, finishes The masterpiece. These mosaics are marketed in formats of 31.6 x 31.6 centimeters, with a joint of 1 mm and a weight of 8 kilograms per square meter, the tiles (small pieces from which the mosaics are formed) have dimensions of 2 x 2 centimeters although they can be 1 x 1.
The sacred city of Mecca is the center of the Islamic world and birthplace of Muhammad. There, the seven towers that make up the Abraj Al Bait complex, not only serve as a tourist attraction, they also help to house the more than 10 million pilgrims who come to the site each year. Of course, if you go to the region, it is an unavoidable visit, in addition, to be one of the architectural wonders of the present century.