Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Aga Khan Award for Architecture
Aga Khan Development Network
 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Arabian Peninsula)
Architect: Henning Larsen
Client: Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Completed: 1984
Site size: 83'000 m²

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs Project Brief

This stately government building is rooted in two Islamic architectural traditions, the vernacular as found in the local mud brick Najdi architecture, and the monumental as expressed in such works as the Alhambra and the Taj Mahal. Surrounded by villas and office buildings, it provides office space for 1'000 employees; meeting, conference and prayer rooms; banquet, library, auditorium, exhibition and parking facilities. The two semi-circular structures on either side of the main entrance house on the left the banquet hall, and on the right the library. The entrance leads to the four-storey triangular lobby. Each of the three main office areas centres upon an octagonal dome-covered plaza from which barrel-vaulted corridors (inspired by traditional city suqs) connect to the lobby. Within each office area are three formal gardens. Daylight reaches interiors far from the perimeter walls by means of these open to the sky spaces as well as by skylights. The degree of air conditioning needed has been reduced by thick walls, high quality insulation, mashrabiyyas and small windows. The jury noted that simplicity and complexity are outstanding features of the design. This expensive building conveys a sense of economy and clarity.

1989 Award Recipients