Soaring over the West Bay district, Doha’s Tornado Tower rises high, overlooking the Bay and most of its high rise neighbors. With its simple form and gentle curves, the tower offers a memorable, elegant silhouette that is recognizable from all vanishing points. Sitting strongly on a pristine plaza, Tornado Tower tapers gently inwards towards its slender mid-height point, then outwards again towards its summit.
The name Tornado was developed by the design team to describe the distinctive, hyperbolic shape of the building. This form is enhanced by a unique lighting system, designed especially for the tower by renowned light artist Thomas Emde. His kinetic light sculpture, by its movement of light, suggests the torsion of a tornado. The lighting system is programmable and is capable of producing over 35,000 variations of lighting patterns to create a stunning visual effect at night.
To construct a relatively lightweight building, a tubular steel “diagrid” structural external envelope was employed. The diagonal pattern of the skin increases the stiffness of the lateral force-resisting system of the perimeter walls. The concrete core of the building is connected to this perimeter structure with clear spanning steel beams topped with composite slabs creating a flexible, column-free office space at each floor level. All floors are also designed with state of the art, raised flooring systems to maximize flexibility for office space planning.
Located on a flat site of 18,500 square meters (199,000 sq ft), the building occupies only around 3,000 square meters (32,300 sq ft) of this, leaving free space around it to enhance the striking visual appearance of the building’s form and shape. The circular footprint of the building, with a diameter of 60 meters (197ft) at the ground floor, includes a ground level restaur-ant, support facilities and a bank. Sixteen high-speed passenger elevators swiftly serve over 84,000 square meters (904,000 sq ft) of office space throughout the building, a first floor cafeteria and conference rooms and the 27th floor recreation area which includes a gym and a juice bar. The building is accompanied by 1500 car parking spaces housed within three levels of underground basement parking. Due to the shape of the building, the total lettable office space available on each floor varies from between 1,260 to 2,400 square meters per floor (13,560–25,800 sq ft). This offers high flexibility in both the size of office space available and the specific sub-division layout of office space within those areas. Surrounded by 360-degree view terraces, the topmost three floors of Tornado are dedicated to VIP offices. The top level of the VIP floors also has direct access to a helipad.
The design of the building is an honest one in that the perimeter structure is an integral part of the design expression—it is on show with the exposed tubular structural system of the façade clad in part with aluminum composite panels. High performance glass and internal sun shading devices ensure that cooling costs are reduced and architectural detailing ensures a relatively airtight building, reducing air leakage to a minimum. In addition rainwater is recycled and used for irrigation purposes. Fire safety measures include dedicated fire lifts and extra stairs. The use of a steel perimeter structure, rather than the more usual concrete structure predominantly utilized in the region, makes for much more slender structural members, maximizing the uninterrupted panoramic views across the city and beyond.
The artistic and entertainment value of the kinetic sculpture of the external façade lighting makes the building equally as impressive after dark as during daylight hours and creates a lasting impression not only from on land but also from out at sea where its light show takes on the appearance of a lighthouse denoting a safe and reassuring haven. In this way, the building is important to the wider community not only as a place to work but also as a work of art, prompting discussion and debate.
[text by skyscrapercenter.com]
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