Casablanca's 'Lord of the Rings' tower could be tallest in Africa

Story highlights

  • The Al Noor Tower in Casablanca has been proposed by a Dubai-based construction company
  • At 540 meters it would be Africa's tallest skyscraper upon completion
  • Planning permission is still to be granted and a definitive site for the structure identified

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(CNN)It may bear more than a passing resemblance to Barad-dur, the dark fortress of Sauron depicted in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but the Al Noor Tower could become the tallest building on the African continent if construction begins as planned later this year.

The project is slated for the picturesque city of Casablanca in Morocco and is being proposed by Dubai-based construction firm, Middle East Development LLC, in conjunction with French architects Valode & Pistre.
    Aside from a stylishly swish exterior, features of the 114-story building include offices, apartments, a seven star luxury hotel, an art gallery and a luxury arcade of shops.
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    While a definitive date for breaking ground has still to be settled, its location finalized and full agreement of the Moroccan authorities sought, the tower's designer told CNN that the project is progressing as planned.
    "Our goal is to start the soil testing in June 2015," said Amedee Santalo. "Then the engineering studies will take another few months (six to nine) and the construction should take two and a half to three years maximum to be completed."
    If permission is granted, Santalo believes the building will be the first of many large skyscrapers that will spring up across Africa in the coming years. He adds that this a sign of the continent's growing strength and potential.
    At 540 meters tall (designed specifically as a recognition of Africa's 54 countries) Al Noor would currently rank as the fifth tallest building in the world, in between Taipei 101 (501 meters) and One World Trade Center (541 meters), according to data from the Emporis building directory.
    "Africa will have, in the next 15 years, thousands of towers," Santalo said. "The continent has an amazing potential with a lots of virgin places and a population of over a billion."
    Santalo added that Morocco's stability, favorable landscape and the fact that it was at the gateway between Europe and Africa made it an attractive location for such a large development.
    The current tallest building in Africa is the 223-meter tall Carlton Center in Johannesburg.