Al-Birr Foundation Headquarters
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Perkins+Will announced that it was named a winner of the “ Architectural Review / MIPIM Future Projects Award” in the ‘tall buildings’ category for the proposed design for the Al-Birr Foundation Headquarters in Riyadh, KSA. The Al-Birr Foundation is a non-profit organization aimed at alleviating poverty and caring for disadvantaged families and children. The international competition honors excellence in design related to MIPIM, a market for international property trade. The Perkins+Will design team, led by Principal and New York Office Design Director, Robert Goodwin, AIA, LEED AP was challenged with designing a sustainable urban tower, while taking into account the specific environmental and cultural characteristics of Riyadh.
“The design explores the typology of an urban tower in the extreme environmental conditions of Riyadh through a reinterpretation of three iconic elements of Islamic culture—the spiral minaret, the walled garden, and the mashrabiya,” said Rob Goodwin. “The design approach synthesizes the symbolic and functional qualities of these elements into a unified expression of the Foundation’s altruistic mission to protect, replenish, and care for the disadvantaged.”
The design begins with a simple rectangular form from which a unique spatial and formal identity is created. A ‘spiraling garden’ is carved from the volume of the rectangle, creating a continuous spatial sequence with a series of open terraces that serve as ‘hanging’ courtyard gardens for the building occupants. The enclosing skin is calibrated through a series of mapping exercises to create varying levels of openness based on solar exposure and spatial/contextual influences. Evoking the traditional ‘mashrabiya’, or wooden latticework screen, this permeable skin creates a delicate balance of static and dynamic expression. The design for the Al-Birr Foundation Headquarters inverts the relationship of skin versus support, simultaneously protecting, revealing, and embodying the activity within. Ultimately the building offers a new paradigm for high-rise design in hot/dry climates through an integrated response to context, climate and culture.