Location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Client: Zuhair Fayez Partnership
Sector: Office, Commercial, Mixed Use
Cost: $667 million (USD)
Status: Completed May 2012
M&E: Loren Butt Consultancies
Civil and Structural Engineers: Jacobs UK
Cladding Consultant: BG&E Facade Consultants
The Information Technology and Communications Complex (ITCC) in the Nakheel district of Riyadh is (in 2010) currently under construction. Consisting of four, 20-storey landmark towers arranged around a central public space, the complex will form the fi rst part of the ITCC Wahat Al-Aamal, or Business Oasis — a $667 million development that will, eventually, also include two research and development buildings, two business technology ‘incubator’ buildings, a library, a mosque, a sports club and a health clinic.
This will be Saudi Arabia’s first IT park and is seen as an important step in improving the country’s global competitive strength in this fi eld, off ering support to local IT businesses and helping to build up the skills of its indigenous labour force. It is also integral to Riyadh’s broader strategy of diversifying the city’s economic base.
Our design proposed four towers, square in plan and with a height determined by the proportions of the Golden Section. These are arranged as if standing in the corners of a larger square, with the geometry of an imaginary parabolic dome intersecting the inward-pointing corners of all four buildings to create a scalloped surface in each tower — refl ecting the shady alcoves often found at the entrances of older Arabian buildings and mosques.
The towers will be fully glazed, but overlaid with a second skin of goldcoloured, pierced aluminium-bronze screens, forming a veil of varying opacity that will both protect the glass from solar gain and sandstorms, and provide the complex with a unique appearance. The towers are under construction and are due to open in 2014.The rich heritage of Islamic art and architecture, and its intricate geometric patterns, provided inspiration for the design of the new ITCC towers in Riyadh. The golden stone of the city’s historic fort and the use of pierced screens to provide shade and protection influenced the proposal for the pierced aluminium-bronze screens that cover the towers, while their scalloped entrance porches reference the shaded alcoves found in many traditional buildings.
The height of the towers is defined by the Golden Section in proportion to the width of its elevations, so the height of the parabolic dome that defines the scalloped form, on the inside corners of all four towers, is derived from the Golden Section as a proportion of the radius of its base — measured as the distance between the middle of the central space to a point halfway along the towers’ elevations. The whole complex is sited above a basement accommodating one retail floor and seven levels for car parking.
Construction of the towers is based on a conventional concrete frame and central core. Raised floors allow direct access to all power and data cables, enabling future change, while the towers’ ventilated double skin, with its pierced outer screen and access walkways, reduces glare and offers an effective barrier against solar gain.
The four towers of the ITCC form and included part of the overall ITCC Business Oasis, for which MBA offered masterplanning advice and the design of the central square, with its circular fountain and generous arrangement of palm trees, and the appearance of the towers was explored in a sequence of computer renderings. Entrance to the towers is provided by doors in the scalloped glass wall that lead into double-height reception areas with access to the retail mall on the floor below.