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


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 Riyadh, 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.

As a multi-modal point of interface connecting a vast carpark below and a monorail station within, it acts as a connective concourse—yet offers a complete sensory departure to patrons of the Spa. Their asymmetric opposing slopes create a sense of motion and address the diverse scales of the built context. Hovering over a textured stone base, the bodies of the buildings are dematerialized by an ethereal perforated titanium rainscreen, a performance-driven jacket with dynamic ‘tessellate’ shading. The skin transforms interior and exterior character with time and seasons, while assuring guests’ privacy. It also becomes a ‘light event’ seen from the portal, and in the fifth elevation vantage.

view to district

Within the Spas, great fissures of light open, carving verdant gardens in the heart of the buildings. Ascending this planted slope, stairs meet interludes of meditation terraces and grotto alcoves. The guest experience is choreographed on three levels as episodes of varied quietness or intensity including lounges, fitness, dining and retail, or silent relaxation space. Each is modulated in light and character from sifted light in the atria, or dim tranquility of treatment, to the brighter vaults of the upper pools.

women's fitness

The facades of the Men’s and Women’s Portal Spas is the first major building to implement Tessellate™ technology – a dynamic perforated screen system that regulates light and solar gain – developed by Adaptive Building Initiative (a joint venture between Hoberman Associates and Buro Happold). The buildings will be enveloped in a titanium rainscreen that incorporates the kinetic Tessellate system.


Always adjusting its opacity to respond to the environment within and outside of the spas, the skin controls light levels choreographing the guest’s experience. The A. Zahner Company helped develop its performance specifications and production plan, and fabricated a full-scale working mockup out of the color-interference titanium.

men's double suite treatment

Architects: WORKSBUREAU Location: King Abdullah Financial District, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Architecture Team: Ben Nesbeitt, Senior Design Principle; Rob Gaspard, Project Manager/Managing Principle; Bradley Shanks, Project Architect; Andre Bighorse, Bhujon Kang, Bill Osborne, Brandon Crain, Donald McLaughlin, Elizabeth Reiter, Ethan Lay-Sleeper, Eric Vollmer, James Konves, Jeremiah Domenech, Lito Aquino, Matt Winquist, Mike Alexander, Mike Duffy, Patrick Bradley, Ram Cruz, Ron Deitrick, Troy Vincent, Sebastian Mittendorfer, Project Team Engineers: Buro Happold Consulting Engineers Landscape Architect: Ten Eyck Landscape Architects Interior Designer: WORKSBUREAU – Marjorie Whitton, Lead Interior Designer; Holly Dezinski, Kelly Hatch Other Consultants: Advanced Building Initiative, A. Zahner Company, Poulin + Morris, Design for Leisure, Raison d’Etre, McKay Conant Hoover, Landmark Foodservice Design & Consulting, Michael Elevator Service Company, GrEn AE Consultants Client: Rayadah Investment Company Structural System: Steel diagrid system with concrete cores; Curtain walls and metal rainscreen facades Major Materials: Titanium, glass, stone Program: Men’s and Women’s separate spa facilities – including: internal gardens, pools, fitness, treatment suites, wet areas, cafes, lounges and retail space. Provision of public concourses and gathering spaces connecting park, Wadi, and retail environments of the Central Car Park. Multi-modal transit including monorail station, automobile, and pedestrian traffic on multiple levels (Wadi, Park and Skywalk system.) Total Site Area: 24,500 SM | 264,500 SF Total Building Area: 22,150 SM | 238,500 SF Total Conditioned Space Area: 18,500 SM | 200,000 SF Design: 2011-2012 Construction: 2013-2014

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Cite: Alison Furuto. "KAFD Men’s and Women’s Portal Spas Proposal / WORKSBUREAU" 20 Jan 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/317832/kafd-mens-and-womens-portal-spas-proposal-worksbureau> ISSN 0719-8884

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