Kuwait’s New Palace of Justice

Posted on November 16, 2020


The new Palace of Justice in Kuwait, a 25-storey building, is currently under construction and will be the largest judicial building in the Middle East once it completes. The development designed by Pace features a pair of floating cantilevered wings that symbolise the Scales of Justice. At the heart of these two wings rises the “Golden Geode” atrium, which together with the plaza form a grand entry into the Palace and open concourse.

Although this development has a relatively regular rectangular shape, the gaps between the wings and the elevated plaza added some unique challenges making it difficult for the technical team to directly apply a code-based approach to estimate the wind impacts on the structure and lightweight cladding elements.

Our Regional Manager for UK & MENA Yiqing Wang who worked on this project states, “It is a well-known fact that using wind codes alone, even for buildings that fall within the provisions of the wind code from a geometric and structural point of view, can often lead to overdesign, significantly impacting construction costs. Wind codes do not always reveal the entire picture, as they try to predict the “typical case” with generalised assumptions that limit the departure away from the regular shape, the buildings aspect ratio and the fundamental natural frequencies which form the basis of the structural design. They also do not allow for the case where there may be unique interference effects caused by neighbouring buildings and structures which could naturally have significant impact on the loads in the super structure and lightweight cladding elements.”

Moreover, the new Palace of Justice also comprises two substructures which are free to move independently along the X-axis (length of the rectangular building) but are restricted along the Y-axis (breadth of the rectangular building). As such Windtech Consultants have developed the current world’s best practice for dealing with structural connections such as this, be they fully or partially restricted connections. This allows for the correction of the fundamental load cases taking into consideration the load transfer between each dynamically independent sub-structure. There is no guidance provided for linked structures like this one in any wind codes.

Aaron Lefcovitch, a director at Windtech, stated, “One of the key steps in obtaining full scale loads on the building is being able to combine the measured wind tunnel coefficients with the regional wind climate data. There are a number of published techniques being used in the industry, however Windtech have been using a technique called the multi-Sector method for the past 9 years, which is currently the most advanced directional method developed to date. The accuracy of this technique has been demonstrated by a great deal of research over years, where a key point of difference is its ability to be robust for the full range of wind climate types.” Windtech applied the advanced directional method to the new Palace of Justice project which had significant impact on the loads cases used for the design of the super structure and the pressures for the design of the cladding systems.

With many important outdoor spaces in and around the new Palace of Justice, ensuring suitable wind conditions in terms of pedestrian comfort and safety was one of the most important tasks for the design team. The building is closely located to the sea and is fully exposed to the prevailing north-westerly winds which are likely to cause unfavourable wind effects such as funnelling through the plaza and downdrafts from the west facing façade. In order to fully understand the wind conditions in and around the building, a detailed wind environment wind tunnel study was also carried out using the highly accurate hot wire measurement technique. Various hard landscapes including screens and canopies were recommended based on the results to mitigate the unfavourable wind conditions and to provide an enjoyable environment to all visitors of the new Palace of Justice.

Windtech Consultants would like to congratulate the whole project team for delivering this fantastic project that will definitely sparkle up the Kuwait skyline.

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