1. Built environment
December 17, 2014updated 19 Jul 2021 2:31pm

Africa's tallest skyscraper will look a bit like the Shard

By City Monitor Staff

Today in skyscraper news: a Saudi Arabian company has announced plans to build Africa’s tallest skyscraper on a 60-acre plot of land in Casablanca, largest city in Morocco. 

Construction on the tower will begin in June 2015, should be done by 2018, and is expected to cost at least $1bn. Inside will be a seven-star hotel (yes, this is a thing), offices and a shopping centre. 

Image:Middle East Development LLC.

The design as a whole is very symbolic: the facade will be decorated with patterns representing the 1,000 languages spoken on the continent, the tower’s 540m height represents Africa’s 54 countries, and its 114 storeys match the number of chapters in the Quran.

Here’s a closeup of the facade, with the various languages represented in “pixellate” form:

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To Londoners, the tower may look a little like the Shard, but it’s apparently meant to resemble something quite different. From the project’s website:

The design of Al Noor Tower is elegant and gives the feeling of a wedding dress.

From the side the tower look like a fountain pen which is the tool that Sheikh Tarek [the company’s chairman for Middle East development] is using to design the future.

Like the sweep of an elegant gown. Image: Middle East Development LLC.


The structure’s working title is the “Al-Noor Tower” (which means Tower of Light in Arabic), but AFP reports it may eventually be named after Mohamed VI, the king of Morocco.

The developers hope the project will boost Morocco’s economy and attract business there. From the project website’s: 

The role of the project is much more than just being a beautiful tower but a real motor for the economy by bringing a complete trading platform to the country….

We also believe that the Diaspora will move back, in terms of investment, to their home country which will be a good support for the local growth of economy.

Africa’s current tallest building is the 223m Carlton Centre in Johannesburg, which has reigned unchallenged over the continent’s skylines since 1973.The Al-Noor tower will more than double its height – but, at 540m, it’ll still be a long way off the 830m worldwide dominance of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. 

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