Zaha Hadid Architects unveils wetland preservation centre for Saudi Arabia



This animation by Methanoia showcases Zaha Hadid Architects’ winning design for the Urban Heritage Administration Centre, a preservation centre for a UNESCO-protected oasis in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.

The 8,780-square-metre building designed by British firm Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) will contain facilities dedicated to protect the Wadi Hanifah valley, a 120-kilometre-long wetland that cuts through the city of Diriyah.

It will include a gallery, library, lecture hall and educational spaces, as well as a scientific institute for conducting field research and documentation of archaeological sites.

These will be arranged around a central eye-shaped atrium surrounded by branching columns and with a pool of water at the bottom – a reference to the wetlands. Four similarly shaped holes will be scooped through the slatted facade of the rectilinear building.

“The waters of this rich and habitable oasis lie within the vast expanse of the Najd central plateau,” said a statement from ZHA.

“This concept is translated within the Urban Heritage Administration Centre by organising its facilities around an atrium with water at its core, as well as four scooped green oases within its apparently solid facade,” it continued.

The studio referenced the traditional rammed-earth building of Diriyah to ensure the building is protected from the heat and sunlight.

This manifests itself in a double facade featuring a perforated outer skin that will shade the building while permitting views out to the wetlands.

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