With temperatures that often reach 50 degrees in summer and with frequent sand storms, the climate of the Saudi capital does not always promote a dynamic public life. We were honored to get the chance to create an entirely new city district where human interaction can unfold, inside and outside. The buildings in the new district are positioned by example from Diriyah, the old town in Riyadh. This positioning guides the desert wind and sun through the district in the most optimal way, resulting in a temperature drop of 8-10 degrees and thus a pleasant outdoor environment. King Abdullah Financial District will distinguish itself with a mix of attractive public spaces as well as retail, hospitality, residential, cultural, and commercial buildings.
King Abdullah Financial District is designed to meet the requirements of the international sustainability scheme, "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design", LEED.
This means that the master plan determines a set of guidelines for sustainable design and construction, which must be followed by the different international architects who design the individual buildings.
The guidelines regulate conditions such as the water and energy consumption of the buildings, their use of materials, and their influence on the microclimate. They also regulate the buildings' geometry within each plot. The district will become the world's largest green urban development project, and the world's first LEED-certified urban district.
Waleed Aleisa, Chief Executive Officer and Project Manager at Al Ra’idah, the developer behind the project:
"King Abdullah Financial District is a great success thanks to Henning Larsen’s support throughout the construction process. They brought detail and quality to the project, and that is generally missing in the Middle East."
If climate changes continue to intensify, countries around the Persian Gulf will become uninhabitable for humans within just a few hundred years. This is the conclusion of recent research into the Middle East's extreme weather conditions.
As a result, one of the major challenges in the design of King Abdullah Financial District has been to create a cool, comfortable urban environment. In our search for the optimal microclimate, we sought inspiration in Riyadh's historical quarter, developed in line with traditional Arabian building methods. Here, streets are oriented according to the prevailing winds, supporting the natural ventilation and cooling of the city.