Perkins+Will designs Science Town at KAUST
Research centres are the hearts of new economies. The design of these centres will establish development patterns for future districts and cities throughout the world. By understanding context and the nature of research development, the plan for the Science Town at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) provides insight into the transformative potential of this development type. KAUST is an international, graduate-level university dedicated to scientific achievement and collaborative research.
Within KAUST’s academic community, 320 hectares (790 acres) of strategic land was reserved for a knowledge-based business district: a research park. The traditional - insular, remote and single use - research park model is too diluted to serve as a hub for robust international research. The KAUST Science Town Master Plan transforms the research park typology into a sustainable community around challenging research building programs in a harsh, arid landscape. This master plan creates a research center that integrates science, business and academics into an integrated district with residential lifestyles and amenities.
The plan directs the physical manifestation of a complete city growing from desert, including all construction and urban systems. Among these recommendations are five principle elements that serve as a framework for all other recommendations: a gridded street pattern, intra-block connectivity, a shaded pedestrian spine, linked open space and mixed-use development program distributed throughout the site. Recommendations of the Science Town Master Plan are scalable. The community is physically designed for adaptability and incremental growth. With this integrated phasing strategy, the town is tailored to the present and standardised for the future. The design of tomorrow’s research centre is a task of community formation not building organisation.
This project is a joint venture between Perkins+Will and Dar al Handasah (Shair and Partners)