King Fahad National Library Riyadh Saudi Arabia, Middle East Architecture

King Fahad National Library Riyadh Building

26 Oct 2020

King Fahad National Library Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Design: Professor Eckhard Gerber – Gerber Architekten

King Fahad National Library Riyadh building
photograph : Christian Richter

ARCHITECTURE

The King Fahad National Library, one of the most important cultural buildings in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was completed and went into use for its intended purpose in 2015. This project sees Professor Eckhard Gerber and his Gerber Architekten team accomplishing one of the most important urban development and cultural projects in the capital, Riyadh. The design functions as the central driving force behind a piece of urban development and rearrangement, and combines the challenge of designing within the existing building stock with respect for Arabian culture.

King Fahad National Library Riyadh building
photo : Christian Richter

Interior Design
The entire former roof of the existing building, which occupies an extensive area, now provides a reading landscape flooded with light and offers a special atmosphere that will encourage the exchange of knowledge in this way. Inside – as if hidden in a treasure chest, a knowledge storehouse – are the book stacks. Visitors access the open-access sections on the third floor of the new building via bridges from the reading area. Everything is covered by a new roof, punctuated by skylights under which white membranes gently distribute the light throughout the entire interior.

King Fahad National Library Riyadh building
photo : Christian Richter

Façade
The key element of the façade was developed especially for the new building. It is a cladding made up of rhomboid textile awnings, marked by its play with revealing and concealing. Inserted white membranes, supported by a three-dimensional, tensile-stressed steel cable structure, act as sunshades and interpret the Arabian tent structure tradition in a modern, technological way. This sequence of old and new creates a uniform and prestigious overall architectural appearance with characteristic styling. At night the façade glows in a soft white light and becomes the city’s cultural lighthouse.

King Fahad National Library Riyadh building
photo : Christian Richter

INTERIOR DESIGN
Interior
The symbolic cuboid shape of the new building surrounds the existing building on all sides, thus presenting the National Library as a new architectural image in the Riyadh cityscape without abandoning the old building, which now operates as an internal stack, making it the centre of knowledge within the new library as a whole. The square new building is covered by a filigree textile façade following traditional Middle Eastern architectural patterns and linking them with state of the art technology.

King Fahad National Library Riyadh building
photo : Christian Richter

Reading Landscape
The entire former roof of the existing building, which occupies an extensive area, now provides a reading landscape flooded with light and offers a special atmosphere that will encourage the exchange of knowledge in this way. Inside – as if hidden in a treasure chest, a knowledge storehouse – are the book stacks. Visitors access the open-access sections on the third floor of the new building via bridges from the reading area.

King Fahad National Library Riyadh
photo : HG Esch

Everything is covered by a new roof, punctuated by skylights under which white membranes gently distribute the light throughout the entire interior. The main entrance hall is on the ground floor, which also houses exhibition areas, a restaurant and a bookshop. A library area for women only, in which they can spend time without a burka, is provided on the first floor of the new south wing; this space is separated from the other building uses, and is also accessed separately.

King Fahad National Library Riyadh building
photo : Christian Richter

URBAN DESIGN
The King Fahad National Library represents the new centre of the rapidly changing Olaya District, and stands out clearly from the heterogeneous existing building pattern. The square new building in the centre of the urban park looks open and light, and is tied into the urban space despite its size. Gerber Architekten designed the existing park including parts of the available green space as a spacious square, and this and the library now form an urban unit. Thus the National Library becomes the iconographic centre of a prestigious urban quarter that will become increasingly important in future years.

King Fahad National Library Riyadh building
photo : Christian Richter

The site links King Fahd Road and Olaya Street, the two main traffic axes of the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The new urban square described above was created on Olaya Street, offering pedestrians direct access to the library and guaranteeing an attractive space in which to spend time despite the heavy traffic.

King Fahad National Library Riyadh
photo : HG Esch

This new square echoes the surrounding basic structure of public squares, in which desolate and neglected building plots are redesigned as green oases. These are intended for various new leisure and recreational activities in the district. The new library stands as an important element of this spatial sequence, and makes a contribution to transforming the area into a lively and complex new urban quarter.

King Fahad National Library Riyadh
photo : HG Esch

LANDSCAPE
The site links King Fahd Road and Olaya Street, which are the two main arteries of the capital city. On Olaya Street, a new urban space has been created which offers pedestrians direct access to the library and provides a high-quality public space away from the busy traffic. This new square continues a local programme for creating new public spaces, whereby abandoned and neglected land is transformed into verdant oases to accommodate a variety of leisure and recreational activities.

King Fahad National Library Riyadh
photo : HG Esch

King Fahad National Library Riyadh – Building Information

Project name: King Fahad National Library
Place: King Fahad Road, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Competition: 1st prize 2002
Construction: 2008–2015
GFA: 86,630 m²
GV: 452,000 m³

Photos copyright of Gerber Architekten

King Fahad National Library Riyadh
photo : HG Esch

King Fahad National Library Riyadh, Saudi Arabia images / information received 261020 from Gerber Architekten

Location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the Middle East

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