KAFD Conference Center
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Within KAFD’s urban master plan, the Conference Center emerges as one of the Financial District’s “Attractor Parcel’s” and iconic terminus structures. Working with SOM’s “exoskeleton” structural design, HMWhite led a team of scientists in developing a revolutionary living roof modular system that harnesses the Arabian Peninsula’s horticultural resiliency. Comprised of a custom Hypertufa growing medium and sharing the rigid growing properties of limestone cliffs, the roof is blanketed with cliff dwelling arid plant communities. The Hypertufa material and its network of modular desert plant matrices allow for flexibility across the building’s varied planes and surfaces.
Indigenous plant communities are spatially organized to blur boundaries between the building’s undulating “exoskeleton” and its surrounding desert landscape. The designed landscape references the local and ephemeral ‘Wadi’ stream bed slopes and defines shaded and cooled vegetated corridors and social nodes. Arabian Peninsula desert meadow grasses and trees emerge as the connective tissue that establishes a human scaled campus landscape. For the first time in Riyadh’s history, native desert vegetation is introduced into a public space setting. Micro-climatic and sustainable landscape management benefits abound, while the people of Saudi Arabia are reacquainted with a part of their ecological heritage.
ASLA New York Honor Award