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Feeling the heat

Atkins | 15 Sep 2010 | Comments

Sustainability, sensitivity to cultural considerations and a striking design sensibility: these are the key ingredients for a new kind of office space in the Middle East.

The Al Riyadh Tower is set to be the third tallest building in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia when it eventually assumes its dominant place in the downtown Riyadh skyline. And yet, despite its towering presence, its height is not going to be its only provocative feature.

The final design – produced by Atkins for the Al Ajlan Allied Group (AAAG) – features a screen system façade where variations in shading enable a subtle adjustment of lighting and air-flow.

This is a first for the Kingdom and will effectively protect visitors from the worst of the intense heat, as well as having cultural significance. The skin is modelled on the traditional mashrabiya style of window architecture, two series of criss-crosses symbolising the separation of private and public life.

In general, high-performance glazing will be deployed throughout the Al Riyadh Tower to block damage from infrared and ultraviolet rays wherever possible.

Covered souk: Although the building’s prime purpose will be business, with 35 storeys of open-plan office space, the ground floor includes an outdoor covered souk. Single-storey retail pavilions are positioned to gain the maximum benefit from any breezes passing through.

Drop-off: Sun path and shading analysis also ensures that the main visitor drop-off zone is sheltered from extreme heat. Sustainability aims include offsetting the environmental impact of conventional cooling methods and minimising solar radiation. Insolation analysis in the height of summer was used to decide the location of windows and informed the design of shaded areas.

Latticework: Mashrabiya latticework is an element of traditional Arab architecture, most frequently found in private residences but sometimes used in the design of public buildings such as schools and hospitals.

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