Godwin Austen Johnson Architects shared with us their proposal in an invited international competition held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Their design for the Celebration Hall is situated in the socially and architecturally significant Diplomatic Quarter 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 Diplomatic Quarter provides direction for prestigious architecture and a high degree of creativity. More images and architects’ description after the break.
A rite of passage, the continuity of a family’s lineage, reinforcing social ties – a wedding is a universal celebration, yet unique to every community. In Saudi Arabia and Riyadh, wedding ceremonies combine a rich history, religious tradition, ethnic sensibilities and incorporating elements of the natural habitat. The simplicity and grandeur of the desert and the Wady Hanifa oasis form the background of celebrations rooted in ageless rituals and traditions.
The Diplomatic Quarter, and Riyadh, is probably one of the only places in the world which has such a concentration of Aga Khan Awards for Architecture, such as the Tuwaiq Palace, Hayy Assafarat Landscaping and the very recent Wady Hanifa Wetlands. The symbolic importance of the rite of passage is retained with dignity through simplicity and elegance, incorporating the natural landscape with the local vernacular. A continuation of these pioneering efforts, our proposal incorporates their fundamental values: “… A noble urban space which combines the modern technologies and amenities with the sense of authenticity of the Oasis.”
The immense dimension and massive but well articulated configuration of the earth berms do not only serve their environmental function, but have already developed a lasting image and a powerful association with the Wady .” Using these key elements and the principle of minimum environmental intervention, our Celebration Hall integrates and assimilates seamlessly with the landscape. Reflecting local tradition, architecture and cultural identity, it creates an unforgettable impact.
There is also a strong emphasis in the brief for the building to be sustainable. GAJ therefore proposed a careful building envelope which allows the use of natural light and reduces the exposure of the external wall to high temperatures. Meanwhile, thick walls reduce temperatures inside the building and improve comfort levels. This passive design technique helps in making the building more energy efficient.
Architect: Godwin Austen Johnson, Dubai, UAE Location: Diplomatic Quarter, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Lead Designer: Ignacio Gomez Partner in charge: Keith Gavin Competition Team: Cesar Bustos, Christine Espinosa, Scott Jezzard, Anshuman Khanna, Laurice Licop Interior Design: Isabel Pintado, Pallavi Dean Visuals: Alberto Bolonos, Ian Jorolan Advisor: John Gillen Project description: Celebration Hall for marriages involving members of the royal family Plot size:13,714 sqm Competition client: Arriyadh Development Authority, ADA