Institute of Diplomatic Studies




The new building comprises among others a large auditorium, lecture halls, library, classrooms, a large hall for visa applicants and office space. The building accommodates a number of shared facilities e.g. a cafeteria and prayer rooms.

The site is unique, oriented towards the big lush park space with the two monuments: Nasseriyah Gate and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The new building will correspond and contribute positively with its well-defined architecture to the area.

Elaborated façades will make the large building vary vividly when passing by, and like looking through a veil one will sense the life and activities within the building.

When entering, the architecture of the building is expressive and easily conceivable. All the larger facilities for the Consular Affairs Department and the Institute of Diplomatic Studies are located in a large room stepping upward (the stepped oasis).

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Project facts

Project facts

Location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Client: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Saudi Arabia
Gross floor area: 46,000 m2
Year of construction: 2010 - 2015
Type of assignment: Commision
Partners: Buro Happold and Geoffrey Barnett Associates

An intelligent façade

An intelligent façade

The façade is a 3 dimensional pattern that appears as a characteristic veil laid over the building.

Through the façade one will sense the lively atmosphere and activity on the stepped oasis inside the building. From the street the entry and hall for the visa department appear open and welcoming. From the inside there is a clear view to the outside from the stepped oasis.

As well as the façade is the significant appearance of the building it also serves as a shell providing shelter for sun, wind and climate.

This façade is designed to adapt perfectly to the conditions in Riyadh. The system of triangles leaning in and out from the vertical plane creates shade for one another and the angled position of the shading opens the façade towards the north where it will have the optimum daylight without heat gain from direct sun impact.

The façade system will be clad with natural stone to match the existing MOFA building. Different grindings of the surface could be used to underline the facetted triangular system and make the façade sparkle from reflections.


Space and light shaping a unique atmosphere

Space and light shaping a unique atmosphere


The stepped oasis going upwards in the building and the overhanging decks create a huge cohesive spatiality. As each of the steps and deck are twisted with an angle of 45 degrees to the façade it provides long areas with visual contact with the stepped oasis, view through the façade and connections between the Consular Affairs Department and the Institute of Diplomatic Studies.

This stepped oasis will with its green plants create a unique environment and atmosphere, which will excite and please visitors and users as they make their way around in the building.

All offices and classrooms are placed along the four façades providing necessary daylight.

Common facilities for the Consular Affairs Department and the Institute of Diplomatic Studies as lobby, cafeteria and library are placed on the stepped oasis, and due to the angle on the stepped storeys these facilities have daylight and an exciting view to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building.

Working with plants and butterflies

Working with plants and butterflies

Never before in the history of Henning Larsen Architects have plants played as big a part of the finished project making up 1/5 of the total volume of the building of 52.000 m2. The plants will be placed inside the building marking a natural boundary between the two ministries IDS and CAD with an estimated height of 18 metres for the tallest palm trees. Our list of suggested plants for IDS resonates with one of our central goals to always embed our projects in the local culture and society they are built into. Our list of plants is therefore inspired by the local desert climate. On festive occasions butterflies will be released in the green areas. We are currently considering the Monarch (Danaus plexippus) the Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charithonia) and the Giant Swallow Tail (Papilio cresphontes).


  • Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


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