Golden Trend Mosaics Adorn
World's Largest Clock In Mecca
March 17th 2011
Italian mosaic tile producer, Trend, which has its UK headquarters in Kent, is nearing completion of one of the industry's largest and most prestigious commissions in modern times. It is for the supply of almost 400 million glass tesserae, or individual tiles, destined for the world's largest and most elevated clock faces, on the celebrated Mecca Royal Clock Tower in Saudi Arabia.
At total of 40,000 square metres of mosaic tiles, 13,000m2 of which are 24 carat gold leafed, will adorn the four 43m high clock faces, atop the tallest hotel in the world, which forms part of the Abraj Al Bait complex.
Trend was commissioned by Dubai-based Premier Composite Technologies, a global supplier of composite structures that manufactured the 800m high clock tower, and, in a related contract, also supplied mosaic tiles for cladding 250 shading umbrellas in Medina, each of which spans an area of 625m2 and is used for sheltering pilgrims from the sun. To implement this colossal project, valued at around €18 million, Trend is utilising a new automated production line, again the first of its kind, at its plant in Vivaro, Northern Italy, which is currently dedicated to output for the Mecca Clock at a rate of 12,000m2 of tiles per month, to meet the mid-2011 final delivery deadline.
The 24ct yellow gold mosaic tiles featured on this project are from Trend's Aureo Modern range, which are available through UK stockists and more usually employed for decorative highlights or sumptuous feature panels. The individual tiles consist of three layers, each with a thin leaf of gold sandwiched between a supportive layer of 4mm thick glass and a thin surface layer of perfectly transparent blown glass, both made from up to 66% post-industrial recycled material. The remaining tiles are from Trend's semi-transparent Vitreo glass mosaic collection, also with a high recycled content, which are matched in size and depth to the golden Aureo.
Located in the Sirat Mountains of Saudi Arabia, the holy city of Mecca, or Makkah in Arabic, is the centre of the Islamic world and birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad. Here, the Abraj Al Bait complex of seven huge towers is part of the government's plan to develop Mecca for receiving as many as 10 million pilgrims each year and the clock tower will be its focus, with elevators taking visitors up to a viewing balcony beneath its four faces. Upon completion this Autumn, the tower will stand as the tallest building in Saudi Arabia, with a finished height of 610 metres, and it will house a 7-star hotel, the most luxurious in the city.
Already described by tourism guides as 'a definite must-see when travelling to this Emirate', the newly-built largest clock in the world will dwarf the hitherto biggest four-faced clock, Big Ben, at almost five times the size and will be visible from a distance of around 25 kilometres. Each face is being adorned with 98 million Trend mosaic glass pieces, more than a quarter in 24 carat gold, creating an aspect of opulence and quality entirely fitting for a treasured modern landmark. At night the clock faces and hands will be illuminated by 2 million LED lights and 15 powerful projectors will send beams of light far into the sky.
In a related commission from Premier Composite Technologies, Trend has also supplied glass mosaics for tiling foldable shading umbrellas installed in the Medina Haram Piazza. Home to the three oldest mosques in Islam and the burial place of Prophet Muhammad, Medina is another focal point for pilgrims and, with temperatures reaching 45˚C, the giant umbrellas protect them from the effects of the burning sun. The 17m x 18m hydraulically-operated retractable umbrellas create a vaulted interior effect, improving climatic conditions, and at night are closed to promote natural cooling. Composite arms protect the umbrellas' membrane covering when closed and each 11m tall structure is mosaic tiled with Aureo and Vitreo pieces, adding durability, weathering performance and aesthetics.
Since Trend's Vitreo semi-transparent tiles are produced using a superior 'fused glass' technique and coloured en masse, each tessera is tinted throughout and thoroughly resistant to abrasion and sunlight, even in the extreme Saudi Arabian climate. Similarly, Aureo tiles have all the traditional lasting qualities of pure gold, providing durable highlights to the overall design.
"These are undoubtedly the most notable mosaic tiling installations of our times and we are delighted that Trend is being associated with two sites of such historic interest, recalling the earliest days of Italian mosaics as decorative art," says Trend GB Sales Director, Tom Anderson. "Trend is a world leader in the specialised technique of producing gold mosaics and these tiles are not so much interior finishing products, as works of art. What's more, architects, interior designers and homeowners can buy exactly the same mosaic tiles and create their own artistic effects."