SOM turns the traditional Medina form on its side for new residential project
Vertical Medina is a 45,000-sq-m residential, office and retail building located in the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), a new 1.6 million-sq-m, mixed-use development in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The project reinterprets the traditional Arab city form - the medina - by turning it on its side, creating a rich vertical network of shops, offices and apartments.
The main facades on the east and west sides of the building are characterised by interlocking frames that delineate the residential units and office spaces from each other. The 16-storey structure, clad in limestone from local sources, contains 55 luxury residential apartments ranging from one to four bedrooms and totaling 18,000 sq m. These apartments occupy the top eight floors of the building. More than 21,000 sq m of Class A office space comprise six floors below the residences, while two floors of retail shops line the street and plazas surrounding the structure.
The design blends new and old, utilising passive sustainability strategies and components of contemporary living to create a new model for living and working in the city. The primary exposures are shaded by the deep recesses of each 'courtyard' in the Medina. In traditional Arab cities, the courtyard was the centre of life at home, providing privacy, ventilation and visual interest. In the urban context of this high-rise district of Riyadh, the vertical courtyard terraces serve the same purpose and provide outstanding views of the city. Each apartment has its own private courtyard, and these courtyards are interspersed with open air gardens that will be shared by all residents and that pass from one side of the building to the other.
The shared courtyards serve as garden terraces for the fitness centre, an event room and the children’s play area. The glass facades of the residences are clad with operable shading screens – like the mashrabiyahs found in traditional Arab cities – to provide further shading from the sun and to enhance privacy. The building is scheduled to be complete in late 2012.