A Saudi investor is making his mark on Africa with plans to build the continent's tallest skyscraper.
The building, proposed for Casablanca, Morocco, is slated to be 540 metres high, 10 metres for each of the 54 countries in Africa according to the project’s website.
The skyscraper is estimated to cost $1 billion and would be built by the Dubai-based Middle East Development LLC, owned by Saudi businessman Sheikh Tarek Binladen.
“It will be Africa’s highest tower,” project manager Amede Santalo told AFP. “We chose Morocco because it is the gateway to Africa and Europe, a modern country and politically stable.”
Currently, the highest building in Casablanca is the 210-metre Hasan II Mosque Mororo, which was completed in 1993. It rises 60 storeys and is the seventh tallest mosque in the world.
The 540-metre building proposed for Casablanca is currently entitled the Al Noor Tower, which translates to Tower of Light in Arabic. It is expected, however, that the name could be changed, with the building eventually named after King Mohammed VI.
Denis Valode from French architecture firm Valode & Pistre has designed the 114-storey tower, which resembles a fountain pen in profile. A bird’s-eye view of the tower resembles an eye, symbolising the vision of Sheikh Tarek Binladen.
While limited design details have been released, Al Noor Tower will be drenched with natural light thanks to its 100-metre atrium. It boasts a pixelated and patterned facade, a reference to the 1,000 plus languages in Africa.
It is proposed for a 25-hectare site and will include a seven-star hotel, restaurant, business amenities and a shopping mall. Al Noor Tower will also allocate 2,000 square metres to The SPA, that moves beyond a general relaxation space to one that houses high level medical treatment.
Africa has very few skyscrapers compared to most other continents due to a range of factors from cost to culture, but that may be changing.
Currently, the tallest tower in Africa remains the Carlton Centre in Johannesburg at 222.5 metres according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. This tower has held the title since 1973. The city also houses Africa’s tallest residential skyscraper, Ponte City at 173 metres tall.
Last year, Chuan Hui International Tower was proposed for Ethiopia. That building would rise 448 metres if approved. Ghana also announced a plan to build a $10 billion technology live/work hub just outside Accra which would reach feature six towers, one reaching 270 metres.
Earlier this year, Cape Town also welcomed its first skyscraper in 21 years, the 142-metre office tower.
At its proposed height, Al Noor Tower would dwarf all of those buildings.
The developers have reported they’re received interest from several African countries to build tall buildings, with other requests in England, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland. They are also in talks with INMA International, an Indian developer.
There are plans to commence construction on the Al Noor Tower next year with completion slated for June 2018.