Challenges revealed in imporving facilities at new Jeddah airport


The Challenge: How to construct a facade to protect buildings from extreme weather conditions and sand storms


Protecting buildings with a facade which can combat extreme heat, sandstorms, dust and the fumes which are ever-present in a busy airport was the challenge facing John Zerafa as he oversaw the redesign of facilities at Saudi Arabia’s Abdulaziz International Airport.

Zerafa, who worked on the Burj Khalifa and is currently involved in the Kingdom Tower, turned to aluminium provider Gulf Extrusions to develop a revolutionary new design which involved rotating blades, to keep out direct sunlight and materials such as dust and sand.

He said: “The rain screen louver system [which protects the buildings] has a unique feature which required the blades to have a transition from closed to open over a distance of six metres.

“This transition was achieved by twisting the aluminum profile from zero to 60 degrees.

“When we send out the enquiry for the twisted profiles we soon realised that it was something that had never been done before.

“But with the help of our suppliers Gulf Extrusions, we were able to achieve a twist in the profile for the first time.”

The designers tested the twists on various grades of alloys and were finally able to achieve a 50 degrees twist which the client accepted.

Zerafa said that the design can now be used in other projects across the Middle East where similar climate and environment issues need to be faced. He added: “The façade is energy efficient and is targeted to achieve LEED Gold status.”

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