Riyadh library encased in protective cube
Gerber Architken complete decade long project
A new building facade technique has been used by Gerber Architekten in its work on preserving and upgrading the King Fahad National Library in Riyadh.
After winning a competition organised by the Saudi Arabian authorities in how best to renovate the structure, the designers decided to combine the latest technology with principles inspired by traditional Arabian tents.
The German practice hit on the idea of totally encasing the original 1980s building in a cube with a facade, which allows light in, but keeps as much heat as possible out, by using individual panels all aligned with the path of the sun across the sky.
A Gerber spokesman said: “The new building encloses the old one protectively, following monument preservation principles.
“The old structure is integrated as a building within a building, while its original concrete dome has been reconstructed in steel and glass and continues to be a cultural symbol of the library.”
The building took a decade to complete, but its designers say it now forms a cultural centrepiece for the city and is a model of sustainability.
The exterior is described by the architects as cladding made of four-sided textiles which provide maximum protection from the sun because of the way they are aligned - letting in just 7% of the outside heat.
A layered ventilation and cooling system is in place and interior membranes supported by steel cables acts as a further form of protection from the sun – following principles of the design of traditional Middle Eastern tents.
The building forms part of an extensive development in the city dedicated to study which also includes a large number of green spaces. At night it is illuminated with changing color patterns.