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Organic fusion with the setting


The new King Abdulaziz Center for Knowledge and Culture blends into the Saudi landscape in an organic way, like a reflection of the sinuous dunes and the sculptural rocks.

Also known as Ithra, the culture complex comprises different pieces housing a series of facilities such as an auditorium, a cinema, a library, exhibition rooms (for permanent and travelling exhibitions), a cafeteria and gift shops as well as a museum and archive offering visitors a regional and historical context.

The formal aspects of the project—designed by the Norwegian architecture practice Snøhetta—are influenced by the geology and distinctive rocky formations of the setting. In the centre stands the Knowledge Tower, a monolith flanked by less elevated mountain-shaped constructions covering a total of 80,000 square metres.

The façade has been clad in stainless steel tubes curved with CNC technology. The latest-generation technology used on the building’s external structure is complemented with traditional techniques such as the use of adobe on walls, a natural material that provides acoustic and thermal insulation and fire resistance.

Indoors, the distribution of the spaces follows a symbolic order: the underground components, including the historical archive and the museum, focus on the past; the ground-level components, such as the rooms intended for functions and conferences, are anchored in the present, while the components of the Knowledge Tower, which include the learning centre, point towards the future.

The center will open its doors to the public by mid 2017.


Gharb Adh Dhahran
Dhahran 34461. Saudi Arabia

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