Rafael de La-Hoz Arquitectos Takes a Page Out of the Quran to Design a Natural Oasis

Courtesy of

Drawing both literal and theoretical inspiration from the Islamic Holy Book, Rafael de La-Hoz Arquitectos earned an Honourable Mention for their design proposal of a habitable natural oasis for the Noble Quran International Competition in Saudi Arabia.

Understanding the significance of the location’s proximity to Islam’s second holiest city and the Capital of Islamic Culture, Rafael de La-Hoz aimed to create a memorable and iconic Islamic Landmark. Therefore, the Quran itself was chosen as the primary source of physical and contextual understanding, the most significant vessel of knowledge for the people and the location.

Erick van Egeraat Designs Pedestrianized City Center in Saudi Arabia

Aerial View. Image © (designed by) BV

Erick van Egeraat have released images of their design for the city center of in Saudi Arabia. Thanks to a 4-lane ring road and an underground thoroughfare linking to underground parking, the 58 hectare site will be entirely pedestrianized at ground level, featuring 70,000 square meters of shopping areas, a gold market, apartments, and offices, all of which will join the city’s existing central mosque.

More on the city center design after the break

Ricardo Bofill’s Winning Proposal for the The Noble Qur’an Oasis Competition

Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura and Gerber Architekten have tied for first place in a competition to design a cultural and civic Islamic center in Saudi Arabia, beating several well known international competitors, including Zaha Hadid Architects and gmp Architekten. The ultimate winner will be announced at a later date.

Ricardo Bofill‘s proposal for the center, which is meant to foster the research, study and transmission of the Qur’an, takes geometric inspiration from traditional Islamic cities:

“The first Islamic city had a circular plan, with all spaces being enclosed in the circle representing the elemental symbol of unity and the ultimate source of diversity in creation. This traditional city, or rather the idea of this city, serves as the base and the essence for the creation of the Islamic modern city. Such a background has led us to choose a circular concept as the main representational shape of the project for The Noble Qur’an Oasis. This unique civic and cultural landmark, with its sleek, minimalist design, is a symbolic container where the Islamic science and culture will be displayed.”

Read the architect’s description of their design, after the break.  

Mega-Tall Skyscrapers Herald Economic Depression, Says Barclays

. Image ©

The world economy has endured a series of crises over the past century, and architecture has recently been recognized as a harbinger of these crises. Two years ago, British finance group Barclays released an index of skyscraper construction projects that correlate with the occurrence of economic downturns since 1873. Many of the tallest buildings in the world have been built at times of severe economic struggle, the most recent being Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, built during the Great Recession of 2007 through 2010. According to Barclays, “the world’s tallest buildings are simply the edifice of a broader skyscraper building boom, reflecting a widespread misallocation of capital and an impending economic correction.”

All the major financial crises in the past century, and the buildings that predicted them after the break…

Construction Slated to Begin on 1km Kingdom Tower

. Image © Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

Work on Kingdom Tower is moving forward, as above-ground construction is slated to begin April 27. Rising over 1000 meters (3,280 feet), the $1.2 billion skyscraper is expected to be the world’s tallest, surpassing the 828 meter tall Burj Khalifa upon completion in 2017.

King Fahad National Library / Gerber Architekten

© Christian Richters

Architects: Gerber Architekten
Location: Saudi Arabia
Project Architect: Thomas Lücking
Structural: Bollinger & Grohmann Ingenieure
Contractor: Saudi Bin Laden
Photographs: Christian Richters

Princess Nora Bint Abdulrahman University / Perkins+Will

© Bill Lyons

Architects: Perkins+Will
Location: ,
Contractor: Saudi Oger, Saudi Binladen Group, El Seif Engineering Contracting Co.
Master Plan: David Hansen, FAIA, LEED AP, Design Director
Area: 3,000,000 sqm
Year: 2011
Photographs: Bill Lyons

Museum of the Built Environment / FXFOWLE Architects

© FXFOWLE Architects

The King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) is a new 55-million-square-foot mixed-use urban community in . Among its public buildings under construction is FXFOWLE Architects’ Museum of the Built Environment (MOBE), which explores the role of social, economic, and environmental issues in the development of the Kingdom of and the larger region. The museum will exhibit works related to the history of the arts and architecture on the Arabian peninsula, as well as document trends in sustainable thinking and their role in the future of the built environment. The museum puts the traditionally private culture of on display, creating a building for residents and visitors.

In Progress: Muqarnas Tower / SOM

© SOM

Architects: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Location: ,
Design Partner: Roger Duffy, FAIA
Managing Partner: Peter Magill, AIA
Project Manager: Joseph Ruocco, AIA
Senior Design Architect: Scott Duncan, AIA
Design Architect: Jackie Wong, AIA
Area: 890,000 sq ft
Year: 2013
Photographs: SOM

Takhassussi Patchi Shop / Lautrefabrique Architectes

© Luc Boegly

Architects: Lautrefabrique Architectes
Location: Takhassussi Avenue, , Saudi Arabia
Architect In Charge: Jean-Pascal Crouzet & Julien Mermet-Bouvier
General Contractor: Dal Al Arabia
Area: 707 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographs: Luc Boegly

KAFD Men’s and Women’s Portal Spas Proposal / WORKSBUREAU

Courtesy of

Seen as geologic formations rising from the land, the design for the KAFD Men’s and Women’s Portal Spas by WORKSBUREAU form great shade porticos beneath long cantilevered masses. Located in two of the civic Attractor beacons of the dense urban King Abdullah Financial District of , the project also forms the gateway to the masterplan, framing the main park as it flows into the Wadi pedestrian artery. More images and architects’ description after the break.

NACO and HOK Win Expansion Contract for Riyadh Airport

’s master plan for King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. will now use the master plan to design the expansion of the airport © NACO

NACO, its Saudi Arabian branch SADECO, and global architect HOK were just awarded the contract to design the expansion of King Khaled International Airport (KKIA) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The design consists of the expansion of the existing terminals 3 and 4, which will enable the airport to handle 20-25 million passengers per year. Currently, the 30-year-old airport is handling approximately 15 million passengers annually. NACO, Netherlands Airport Consultants, a Royal HaskoningDHV company, and HOK will lead the design team for this prestigious project. More architects’ description and their press release after the break.

Heads Up: 10 Fastest Growing and Declining Cities

Santiago, : Photo by Flickr user Gord McKenna, licensed through Creative Commons.

According to Derek Thompson’s article for The Atlantic, the Brookings Institute recently published a ranking of the world’s 200 largest metropolitan economies. The Global MetroMonitor division of the Brookings Institute, published the report on January 2012. In this brief synopsis, he reveals the “10 Fastest-Growing (and Fastest-Declining) Cities in the World”. Among the fastest growing is Santiago, Chile, the only Latin American country in the top 10. The top 10 is primarily populated by Asian countries – China, and Saudi Arabia all have multiple cities in on the list. Conversly, the tail end of the list is dominated by Western European countries most affected by the economic downturn, with just two cities from the US – Sacramento, California and Richmond, Virginia.

The survey primarily focuses on their economic development comparing income and job growth, to say nothing of the cultural, societal, and political circumstances which may or may not be contributing the dynamism of each city’s economy. Thompson points out, two of the fastest growing cities in the world, Izmir, Turkey and Santiago, Chile are also among the poorest. Developing countries have the most to gain as they join the global economy but it may still be sometime before the economic growth balances a comfortable standard of living.  Watch the interview with Alan Berube from MetroMonitor.

With all of that in mind, follow us after the break for a look at the list.

Celebration Hall of Riyadh / Studio Schiattarella

Courtesy of

Conjugating innovation and tradition, the first prize winning proposal for the Celebration Hall of by Studio Schiattarella, in collaboration with Tecturae, aims at adhering to the specific route adopted by the Saudi culture. The building appears to be the requirement currently expressed globally and each culture develops it in its own fashion. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Skyscraper-mania in Asia and the Eternal Competition for the World’s Tallest Building

Photo by Flickr user: nelson ebelt - http://www.flickr.com/photos/nelsonebelt/

Recent years have seen an influx of skyscrapers completed, nearing construction, or proposed in Asia. Stimulated by an exponentially growing population and, therefore, thriving economy, Asia has contributed more soaring buildings to the world’s Supertall list than any other continents combined. With the completion of the world’s tallest building at 828 meters tall, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, comes the proposition of progressively more structures which aim to surpass the prior and ascend to the number one status.

More on skyscraper-mania in Asia after the break.

World’s Tallest Skyscraper

© Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

Over 1,000 meters (that’s 3,280 feet!) with a total construction area of 530,000 sqm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture are currently in design development phase for Kingdom Tower. Slated to surpass Burj Khalifa by 173 meters (coincidently which Adrian Smith also designed while at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill) Kingdom Tower is the centerpiece of the $20 billion dollar Kingdom City Development, with the tower itself expected to cost $1.2 billion dollars. Featuring a luxury hotel, office space, serviced apartments, luxury condominiums and the world’s highest observatory the tower’s foundation drawings are complete with the piling currently being tendered.

More renderings of the world’s largest tower which will be located near the Red Sea in Jeddah, following the break.

Diplomatic Quarter Celebration Hall Proposal / Godwin Austen Johnson Architects

Courtesy of Godwin Austen Johnson Architects

Godwin Austen Johnson Architects shared with us their proposal in an invited international competition held in Riyadh, . Their design for the Celebration Hall is situated in the socially and architecturally significant of Riyadh and takes into consideration the local roots of the city. The proximity of the local Aga Khan award winning landscaped edge to the provides direction for prestigious architecture and a high degree of creativity. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Winners of the 2010 Aga Kahn Award for Architecture

Courtesy of Moriyama & Teshima Planners Limited & Buro Happold

Of a total of 410 projects, five have been selected for the 2010 Aga Khan Award for Architecture at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha.  The five projects, selected by a Master Jury are:

  • Wadi Hanifa Wetlands, Riyadh,
  • Revitalisation of the Hypercentre of Tunis, Tunisia
  • Madinat Al-Zahra Museum, , Spain
  • Ipekyol Textile Factory, Edirne, Turkey
  • Bridge School, Xiashi, Fujian, China

For more information on the winners and images read on after the break.