Recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1998.
The Tuwaiq Palace hosts government functions, state receptions, and cultural festivals that introduce Saudi arts and customs to the international community, and vice versa. The building is enclosed by inclined curved walls, forming a sinuous curvilinear spine 800 m long, 12 m high, and 7-13 m wide, used for guest services and accommodations. It encloses outdoor sports facilities, gardens, and extensive landscaping laid out in a pattern of complementary spirals, circles, and curves, in harmony with the building's undulations. Mushrooming from the spine are tents supported by tensile-structure technology. The tents enclose the large-scale spaces: main lounges, reception areas, multi-purpose halls, restaurants, and a café. The landscape plan provides a dramatic contrast between the lush greenery of the outdoor spaces enclosed by the spine and the arid rocky plateau beyond its walls. Taken as a whole, the design makes reference to two local archetypes - the fortress and the tent - and reproduces the natural phenomenon of oases. Reinforced concrete, and steel masts and cables, comprise the basic structural materials of the building. The white tents are made of Teflon-coated, woven fibre fabric. Those facing the garden are of cable nets coated with custom-made, glazed blue ceramic tiles fastened to timber battens. The tents are enclosed by glass walls. The jury commended the building for its "architectural qualities and its setting within a dramatic landscape, the idea of a soft fortification, its hard and soft spaces, and its combination of concrete, stone, tensile structures, and landscaping."
Davidson, Cynthia C., editor. “Legacies for the Future: Contemporary Architecture in Islamic Societies”. London: Thames and Hudson, 1998.
In the rapidly changing tastes and styles of Western culture, the most highly acclaimed designs in contemporary architecture are often unconnected to the social and cultural contexts from which they spring. In contrast, in Islamic societies around the world, architecture often plays a far more responsible role, responding to the immediate needs of local and personal exigencies. As a result, some of the most humanist contemporary architecture is overlooked by the fashions of today's international design periodicals. The seven projects chosen, for this, the seventh cycle (1998) of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, from hundreds by the jury are among the most fascinating and thoughtful work produced anywhere in the world. Each project is profiled in depth with lucid texts, extensive drawings and specially commissioned photographs. Critical essays consider the challenges and potential rewards confronting architects and planners working in exceptional conditions. Legacies for the Future is the seventh in a series of books under the general title Building in the Islamic World Today.