Standing at the entrance to the harbor near the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia is the KAUST Breakwater Beacon, a contemporary interpretation of a lighthouse that doubles as a community gathering place. Designed by Urban Art Projects (UAP), the 60-meter-high tower is a honeycomb obelisk built from pre-cast concrete blocks. In addition to acting as a literal beacon for the university, the spire is also a natural-cooled space for communal events and celebrations.
KAUST commissioned Australia-based Urban Art Projects to design a contemporary lighthouse for the HOK-designed university, which was inaugurated back in 2009. Led by Daniel Tobin, Matthew Tobin and Jamie Perrow, they team came up with a soaring tower inspired by Arabic maritime traditions, regional artwork and architecture, and coral in the nearby Red Sea. The honeycomb pattern was created by using pre-cast concrete blocks to form a collection of hexagonal sections. Inside, the spacious interior atrium is daylight thanks to a dappled shading effect provided by the skin.
The building also works to naturally cool itself with the help of breezes and the stack effect, which draws hot air up and out while bringing cooler air in from the ocean. At night the tower is lit up from within and shines out through the honeycombs to act as a lighthouse for boats in the area. UAP was aided by Bureau^Proberts for architecture, Norman Disney & Young for lighting, and Robert Bird Group for engineering.
Images ©Urban Art Projects