In a bid to keep the notorious heat of Saudi Arabia at bay, Istanbul- and London-based architectural firm Avci Architects has created an upscale, mixed-use complex in the coastal city of Al Khobar that is carefully oriented to maximize natural cooling. In addition to careful site placement and building massing, the architects will add shading elements and an abundance of greenery to create a cool microclimate to encourage use of outdoor space and community building. The project, which has yet to be built, was recently selected as the 2019 Architizer A+ Awards Popular Choice Winner in the Residential Multi-Unit Housing category.

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Covering an area of approximately 60,000 square meters, the Al Khobar mixed-use development will offer a mix of housing, office space, a hotel, retail space and restaurants as well as a mosque. To protect the privacy of the residential areas, the architects have oriented the openings of the offices to face away from the residences and added pergolas or mashrabiya — decorative enclosed balconies common in Islamic architecture — to shield views with the added benefit of mitigating unwanted solar heat gain.

Related: A Mumbai industrial complex becomes a modern, mixed-use campus

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“The facades are layered in shading elements that are designed appropriately to the orientation of the buildings in relation to the sun,” the architects explained. “Our approach would be to create a massing and facade articulation that becomes reminiscent of old Islamic cities, where a sense of community is created between neighbors by allowing them the opportunity to interact through some of the adjacencies of such articulated spaces at higher levels in the buildings.”

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The outdoor spaces have also been sheltered from the heat with shade elements, landscaping and evaporative pools so that residents and the public can comfortably enjoy the outdoors for most of the year, barring the most intense summer months.

+ Avci Architects

Images via Avci Architects