Commissioned to design a new high-performance office facility for the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) in Riyadh, Omrania envisioned a modern campus in which workforce productivity is balanced with enhanced occupant health, quality of life, and sustainable building technologies. The proposed SEC headquarters goes beyond the function of a traditional white-collar office building, laying the foundation for long-term employee satisfaction and positioning the company as a leader in innovative planning as well as energy-efficient construction.
The headquarters are seated in a state-of-the-art campus encompassing 265,000 square meters, with offices and amenities distributed across five interconnected buildings and the surrounding “wadi” garden landscape comprising one city block. The four cube-shaped office blocks are unified by a central podium volume at the center, which serves as the main reception and creates a social and functional heart for the company. The individual buildings house different departments and, viewed together, represent a coherent unity of organized parts. At the same time, the plan enables a great deal of flexibility to accommodate future growth and change.
The SEC campus is designed to increase the quality of life of the people who work there, simultaneously fostering employee satisfaction and productivity. The central podium building is the key programmatic element of the project. This dynamic, active space houses a variety of shared functions including an auditorium, an exhibition space, a prayer hall, and a media center that fill the campus with life. In addition, the central podium building boasts an extensive academic center—a state-of-the-art learning environment where employees at every level are provided the means to maintain their knowledge base and further develop their skills. Outdoor landscapes are designed in a way that encourages healthy lifestyle choices including walking and jogging paths that complement the interior health and fitness facilities. The roof terrace of the podium offers additional shaded recreational space.
Inside the office buildings, open-plan floorplates offer highly efficient, flexible, and easily adaptable work environments. Each office building has a horseshoe-shaped floorplate surrounding a multifloor atrium, which serves as a social hub and filters indirect natural light throughout the interiors. Projections indicate that the new complex will increase the company’s operational efficiency through long-term cost reductions in energy and maintenance.
All systems serving the facility are engineered for efficient performance. The building envelope itself is designed to achieve high thermal resistance values via glazing and shading devices, reducing the impact of the cooling load on energy demand. The atrium in each office block is designed to harvest ambient light, distributing it across the floors and thereby lowering the need for electrical light sources during the day. The roofs of the four office buildings are equipped with photovoltaic and wet-solar arrays that generate a combined 1.2 megawatts of electricity—among the largest rooftop arrays in the world, though still significantly short of the anticipated full occupant power load.
An off-peak cooling system further reduces energy costs and consumption by manufacturing ice in the pre-dawn hours, when the air temperature is cooler. Designated parking for fuel-efficient and electric vehicles is desirably and visibly placed, while the required parking for up to 4,000 conventional private vehicles is set underground to reduce heat gain. Water efficiency was also a priority: graywater from washbasins and ablutions is treated and stored in the adjacent service facility. This water is then used to irrigate and maintain the seasonal, climate-specific landscape elements without tapping into the municipal supply. At the material level, the building itself is literally healthy: its finishes are low- or zero-VOC, formaldehyde-free, and toxin-free.
From conception and design to building technology and material specification, the SEC headquarters demonstrates a forward-thinking understanding of the architecture of the modern office environment.