A new financial district in Riyadh merges local urban traditions with advanced sustainable building technology
In 2006, Henning Larsen Architects (HLA) won the international competition to design a masterplan for the new financial district in the centre of Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh. The brief called for the plan to draw inspiration from the Arabian landscape while creating a sustainable urban core for the city.
Carefully considering the brief, HLA has developed a masterplan for the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) that combines function with innovative design. The plan will not only service the financial world, but will create an integrated community, rendering the KAFD socially sustainable. The plan is unified by an interpretation of a Wadi, acting as an open promenade, linking together 3,300,000 sq m of financial institutions, retail, residential towers, sports facilities, and cultural centres.
The Wadi will contain water features which decreasing the temperature by approximately 6-8 degrees Celsius through evaporative cooling. A monorail system and pedestrian skywalk network will connect all district zones. Skywalk footbridges will be powered by solar energy, minimise vehicular pollution and ensure pedestrian accessibility to all destinations within the financial district. HLA’s design guidelines advocate for harnessing Riyadh’s solar capacity. Facades, with integrated solar cells and locally-sourced materials, will be variably oriented to increase insulation.
All landscaping within KAFD will feature shading devices (movable awnings, canopies, tensile structures, etc...) that optimise ultraviolet protection and reduce solar heat gain, while accentuating crucial urban nodes and entry points. Green roofs and intelligent lighting will further reduce energy consumption. Henning Larsen Architects conducted research and devised the comprehensive Project Environmental Sustainability Policy in order to meet KAFD’s goal of limiting energy consumption to 50% of the average usage in the city of Riyadh.
The KAFD is expected to meet a broad range of demands for the city of Riyadh as a whole, not only creating a distinctive crystalline skyline and an icon for the growing Saudi financial world, but unifying and servicing a large portion of the bordering community, while standing as a world-class example of sustainable development.