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Makkah Royal Clock Tower

Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Innovative, shaped and tinted BIPV for the world's largest clock tower in Makkah, Saudi Arabia

The project

Standing at 607m tall, the Makkah Royal Clock Tower is the largest clock tower, and third largest building in the world, with only the Shanghai Tower (632m) and the Burj Khalifa (828m) ahead of it.

Designed by architects’ SL Rach and Dar al-Handasah Shair & Partners, at a cost of over $15billion the clock tower is at the heart of the holiest Islamic city, Makkah, and was developed as part of the King Abdulaziz Endowment Project.

At 120 floors, the building provides luxury accommodation and leisure facilities for devout Muslims that make the journey to the city every year during the Hajj.

The clock faces, which are 35 times larger than Big Ben, are a feat of modern engineering. At 43m across and are decorated with over 98 million coloured glass mosaic tiles each clock hand weighs a staggering 6 tonnes. To turn the 23m hands, a clock drive needed specially commissioning to cope with the extreme weight and punishing weather conditions the clock face would encounter at that height.

The solution

Each clock face required its own clock drive at a weight of 21 tonnes each to be able to turn the hands and as such required its own source of power.

Architects SL Rach designed a faceted glass orb to sit at the top of the structure so serve a dual purpose as a viewing deck and to incorporate cutting edge BIPV technology. Romag worked with the architects to refine the design to maximise efficiency without affecting the elegant design of the structure.

The 233 gigantic solar panels were constructed from low e glass that was printed in elegant hues of blue and purple and incorporated coloured cells for maximum visual impact. The panels were cut into custom shapes to achieve the spherical shape of the dome and the elegant leaf pattern.

The result

The panels generate 37KWp which powers the colossal clock drives and are a testament to the design and innovative capabilities of the technical team at Romag. Like all BIPV projects, the Makkah Royal Clock Tower is completely unique, standing as the world’s highest solar installation.

Graeme Shield, Technical Engineer who worked on the project said “The Makkah Royal Clock Tower was an immensely challenging project due the demands on the solar being at that height, in that climate and in the design of the panel itself to meet the complexity of the orb design. All our BIPV work is unique but every part of this project was innovative, from design to the way it was installed. The finished result is a testament to good working practice between Romag and the architects. The finished pieces were magnificent. It is something we are incredibly proud of”.

Video - Makkah Royal Clock Tower development

Video - Makkah Royal Clock Tower at night

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