Situated in the heart of Saudi Arabia's oilfields, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture represents a unique design of never-been-realised flowing forms. The buildings housing the cultural amenities, including a library and a concert hall, shine in the sunlight like five bare pebbles. Some of these spectacular, three-dimensional free forms, clad in a futuristic metal facade, rise an ambitious 90 m (295 ft) into the sky. For the architects at SnĂ¸hetta, this composition of horizontal and vertical edifices reflects the conflicts in Arabian culture - between its ancient roots and its visions for the future.
The design and construction of the entire envelope presents a highly complex 3D task for seele - with a very tight timetable. For the first time ever, a project is being conceived, designed and even produced entirely in three dimensions. 350 kilometers (220 miles) of bent stainless steel tubes shape the metallic outer skin. Every one of the approx. 5.5 m (18 ft) long tubes, mounted in rows along the facades, is a one-off. Every tube is bent in three dimensions to different radii and in different directions. That meant a completely new machine had to be developed specifically for producing the individually multi-curved facade tubes. A similar level of complexity is also required for the erection logistics. The supporting structure is a polygonal steel net that is wrapped around the primary structure of steel columns and reinforced concrete floor slabs. A second network of stainless steel tubes, integrated into a sandwich assembly of trapezoidal corrugated metal sheeting, insulation and standing seam metal cladding, re-creates exactly the organic forms desired by the architects. Each one of the 76.1 mm (3 in) diameter tubes - spaced just 9.9 mm (3/8 in) apart - is attached to the standing seam cladding with a custom fitting. seele also supplied the steel-and-glass, all-glass and laminated timber facades for this project, tapping its vast reserves of experience for the design and construction of these parts of the building.
Â© SnĂ¸hetta/MIR Zoom
Â© SnĂ¸hetta/Luxigon Zoom