King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre KAPSARC Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects

Total Area: 70,000 m2



KAPSARC Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is a non-profit institution for independent research. Founded on July 10, 2007, by the Saudi Council of Ministers. The research is on the energy challenges and opportunities in different countries and Saudi Arabia faces. Moreover, it further enhances the global economic outlook with its quality decision-making, which reduces the environmental impact and overall costs of energy supply. Zaha Hadid is the architect of this project. It is also ZHA’s first project, awarded with the LEED Platinum certification by the US Green Building Council. The center overall comprises of the office building, conference center, library, IT center, and musalla.


The concept of the center is to design a campus that responses well to the environmental conditions of Riyadh and in such a way that it minimizes energy and resource consumption. The form of the design is an irregular, angular, beehive-like structure. Also, the working and worshipping space inside the campus merges together at an open air-central plaza.

To tackle the hot and arid climate of Riyadh, various water bodies in the open spaces are also present. This further helps in creating micro-climate within the campus. The design itself provides an abundant amount of natural lighting during the daytime, coming from the hexagonal-shaped openings.


Aeriel View KAPSARC
Image ©Hufton & Crow


Image ©Hufton & Crow



On the western side of KAPSARC is the Residential Campus (called the REC), whereas on its eastern side is the Research and Office Complex (called the ROC).

The primary design achieved by integrating different departmental spaces with common open public space. This common public space shaded by canopies acts as a meeting space and also links different departments together. Each building is approached through this courtyard.

These courtyards orient more towards the north and northwest to provide indirect sunlight which further keeps the internal atmosphere cooler. Spatial layering effects created by incorporating off-settled floor plates, which offer transparency between the floors in public areas. In secured or private areas, these floorplates are overlapping just to maintain privacy.

The design of the worshipping place, called Musalla carries a symbolic embodiment of light. Consequently, a large organic structural web provided in the interior creates an experiential journey for the worshippers. Philip Colour Kinetics’ ColorBlast Powercore fixtures are installed behind this structural web. These lights up the interior and creates a quiet yet comfortable environment for worshipping.

Image ©Hufton & Crow


The design of KAPSARC has a unique form and volume, while it also promotes the cultural dimensions, reflected in the geometric motifs, materials, and mesh elements.


Image ©Hufton & Crow


Image ©Hufton & Crow


Overall, the design serves as a good example of organic forms, executed well in the context of architectural designing and structural technology. The evergreen late architect Zaha Hadid, had always set up a new boundary in terms of the architectural designs of the 21st century, which means, no longer working with rigid blocks and spaces between these blocks. Also, for better understanding, watch the video



Also for more information regarding the projects of Zaha Hadid, click here

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