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."
Ibrahim, Abdelbaki Mohamed (ed). 1998. Tuwaiq Palace. In Alam al-Bina. Cairo: Center for Planning and Architectural Studies, 24-25/205.
This issue of Alam al-Bina is devoted to the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, 1998.
The master jury for the 1998 Aga Khan Award for Architecture were concerned with recognizing projects that had a wider global context and meaning while also identifying those projects that have a regional relevance. The jury searched for projects that respond creatively to the new crisis situations in the world, especially in the Muslim World. Seven projects were selected for the Award. Two were seen to have qualities that could be of relevance to a broader global context: Hebron Old Town and the Slum Networking of Indore City. Two projects were seen to respond in an exceptional way to specific social and environmental conditions: The Salinger Residence and the Lepers Hospital. Three of the chosen projects, the Tuwaiq Palace, the Alhamra Arts Council and Vidhan Bhavan, are important large scale public buildings. Their form and context were regarded by the Jury as very significant in the continuing process of evolving a contemporary architectural vocabulary in the Islamic world. (Taken from English summary on page 9)