Design snapshot: Riyadh's newest petroleum studies and research hub

Arup, which worked alongside Zaha Hadid Architects on the 70,000sqm project, outlines key details about the development's design, sustainability, and construction schemes

KAPSRC opened its doors to the public this month [image:].
KAPSRC opened its doors to the public this month [image:].
Arup worked with ZHA on the project [image:].
Arup worked with ZHA on the project [image:].
LEED Platinum principles have guided the project's development [image:].
LEED Platinum principles have guided the project's development [image:].

The King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSRC) project in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, opened its doors to the public earlier this month. 

Spanning 70,000m², the energy and environmental research campus is focussed on researching effective and productive uses for energy. 

Arup worked alongside Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) to develop the project from "a series of modular crystalline structures". 

In a press statement, Arup added: "The buildings have been designed to turn their back to the sun, in order to minimise solar gains, and are shaped to enclose shaded courtyards cooled by the prevailing desert winds.

"[The project] also features self-supporting cellular structures, providing flexible spaces that can be adapted [for] multi-functional uses within the buildings." 

Appearing as crystalline forms emerging from the desert landscape, the campus includes research and information technology (IT) facilities, a conference centre, a library and a musalla.

The following pages outline details of the project's design, structural, and sustainability aspects, as revealed by Arup. 

All buildings in the project are connected by a 10,000m² canopy, which unifies the campus and provides shading to the people moving through the external spaces, Arup explained. 

The company provided multi-disciplinary services for the project, covering its civil, structural, building service, façade, sustainability consultancy, security, building performance, fire, acoustics, venue consulting, information and communications technology (ICT), and audio-visual (AV) elements. 

Arup was involved with the development through its design and construction phases, using the LEED Platinum framework to guide its sustainability strategy.

"The buildings’ massing and orientation, together with the use of self-shaded courtyards, were designed to provide natural daylight," Arup explained.

"A reflective light colour was selected for the glass reinforced concrete (GRC) façades and roofs. The percentage of glazing was optimised to minimise solar gains, which also played an important role in inherently minimising the energy consumption of the buildings.

"Further measures included a selection of systems tailored to each building which use energy efficient equipment, workstation lighting, and thermal control." 

According to ARUP, KAPSRC would generate renewable energy through a photovoltaic (PV) array with the capacity of 50,000 mega-watt-hour (MWh) each year. 

Potable water will be treated, recycled, and reused on site. 

Arup explained that KAPSRC's large volume spaces were "extremely complex, with inclined surfaces and unique cellular elements [that] provided a challenge to our structural engineers".

The team used custom parametric scripting tools to design a workflow, in collaboration with its in-house façade engineering team and the project's architect. 

"This allowed the organic surfaces to be converted into a rational steelwork geometry, enabling fabrication and erection to be more straightforward and cost effective," Arup continued. 

"The same tools were used to analyse and design the steelwork, ensuring optimal structural performance and [creating] a 3D model [compatible with building information modelling].

"Despite the complex geometry, site queries were kept to a minimum and were largely addressed using digital collaboration tools to overcome the geographic separation, [and] the frame was erected without delay allowing the construction of the façade to proceed." 

Spatial coordination of the building's service elements was also implemented in collaboration with the architect, using 3D models. 

Arup explained that the approach was "key to achieving the integration of the services within this iconic campus".

"The contractor also produced installation information in 3D, and the team reviewed these models rather than plan drawings to ensure compliance with the design," Arup added.

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