Zaha Hadid Architects has won first prize in a competition for their design of the Urban Heritage Administration Center in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. Envisioned with sinuous lines and a futuristic form for which the architecture firm is famed, the center serves as the head office of the Heritage Museum and will work to preserve Diriyah’s historic UNESCO world heritage site. Drawing inspiration from the surrounding landscape and historic rammed-earth buildings, the sculptural building will be built with a double-skin facade to protect the interior from the heat and sun.
The 8,780-square-meter Urban Heritage Administration Center is considered a crucial part of the preservation and restoration efforts throughout the 120-kilometer Wadi Hanifah valley. The center’s design is a reflection of its geographical and cultural surroundings, particularly the way man interacted with nature to form the oasis within Diriyah’s Wadi Hanifah valley. To recreate the oasis environment indoors, the Urban Heritage Administration center is centered on an atrium with water, along with four “scooped” green oases.
The curvaceous double-facade comprises a perforated outer skin that allows natural light inside and views of the surroundings, while providing privacy and protection from solar gain. “The design relates to Diriyah’s local vernacular, not through mimicry or a limiting adherence to references of the past, but by developing a deeper understanding of its traditions and composition – expressed in a contemporary interpretation informed by the same natural forces that defined Diryah’s historical architecture,” write the architects. The Urban Heritage Administration Center will house a permanent exhibition gallery, library, lecture hall, educational spaces for all age groups, and scientific facilities for field research and documentation of Diriyah’s many archaeological sites.
Images via Zaha Hadid Architects