With temperatures that can reach 50 degrees in the summer heat and with frequent sand storms the Saudi Arabian capital is climatically not always the best place to enjoy public life. We were honoured to get the chance to create an entirely new city district, where life between people can unfold, both inside and in public space. We have placed the buildings with Diriyah, the old town of Riyadh as example. Due to the placement of the buildings, the desert wind and the sun will be guided through the city in the most optimal way. This has resulted in a drop of temperatures between 8-10 degrees and 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 fulfill the requirements under the internationally recognized sustainability certification, "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design", LEED.
The master plan therefore sets out a number of guidelines for sustainable construction, which must be followed by the various different international architects who design the individual buildings.
The guidelines regulate the buildings' water and energy consumption, and use of materials, and also their influence on the micro-climate between buildings, and so on. They also regulate the buildings' geometry within each plot. This overall certification makes the district the world's largest green urban development project, and the world's first LEED-certified urban quarter.
Waleed Aleisa, chief executive officer and project manager of the district at developer Al Ra’idah:
"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 world climate change continues unabated, the countries around the Persian Gulf will become uninhabitable for human beings within just a few hundred years.
This is shown by the latest research into the Middle East's extreme weather conditions.
One of the major challenges in the design of the King Abdullah Financial District has therefore been to create a cool and comfortable urban environment. In our hunt for the optimum micro-climate, we sought inspiration in Riyadh's historical quarter, which is built according to traditional Arabian building methods. Here, the streets are oriented according to the prevailing winds, supporting the natural ventilation and cooling of the city.