Zaha Hadid Architects to design Saudi heritage center in Diriyah

Published November 2nd, 2016 - 07:00 GMT
The Urban Heritage Administration Center will house the permanent headquarters for the Heritage Museum. (
The Urban Heritage Administration Center will house the permanent headquarters for the Heritage Museum. (

Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA), a leading architectural firm based in London, UK, has won the contract to design the Urban Heritage Administration Centre in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage had last year organised a competition to select the designer for the 8,780 sq m head office of the Heritage Museum.

The Urban Heritage Administration Centre will feature a permanent exhibition gallery, library, lecture hall and educational spaces for all age groups besides a scientific institution for conducting field research and documentation of the many archaeological sites in Diriyah.

The centre is integral to the on-going works to preserve Diriyah’s Unesco-listed world heritage site, continuing the restoration programmes throughout the 120km Wadi Hanifah valley, said a statement from ZHA.

The centre’s design is intended to engage with its geographical and cultural context. Interaction between man and nature has defined the oasis within the Wadi Hanifah valley at Diriyah and has guided the design’s development, it stated.

According to ZHA, the waters of this rich and habitable oasis lie within the vast expanse of the Najd central plateau.

"This concept is translated within the Urban Heritage Administration Centre by organising its facilities around an atrium with water at its core, as well as four ‘scooped’ green oases within its apparently solid facade," said a company spokesman.

"The façade’s actual has a perforated outer skin that protects the interior from solar gain while maintaining visual connections with the natural surroundings," he stated.

According to him, the preserved buildings of Diriyah’s historic centre use rammed-earth construction with thick walls and small exterior openings for protection from the heat and sun.

This is reinterpreted as a double-façade which creates the apparent solidity from the exterior while also giving the natural light and views of the surroundings from the interior that are required of a modern workplace, he stated.

The centre will also provide the permanent headquarters for the Heritage Museum as a growing institution with increasingly popular educational workshops and cultural tourism, in addition to the expanding research programmes undertaken by scientists and academics from around the world, he added

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