Tuwaiq (Towaiq) Palace is the central cultural facility for the prestigious Diplomatic Quarter (DQ) in Riyadh. The project was designed as a club, offering 24,000 sqm of recreational, social, dining, banqueting, conference, and accommodation functions.
The building’s much celebrated design features a curving, 800-meter-long “Living Wall” that wraps around a lush garden. Mushrooming from the Wall are 5 giant tensile structure “Tents”. Leisure facilities and a variety of plantings animate the inner gardens and outer spaces along the winding Wall.
This unique design touches on two local archetypes, the fortress and the tent, and it incorporates the natural phenomenon of the oasis. In their combination, these elements suggested a new building typology with a special relationship to its context. Much development in Saudi Arabia during the 1980s was based on glossy western building models. Tuwaiq Palace is a bold departure from that trend, touching instead upon easily understood signals from past desert civilizations. This reinterpretation is a daring confrontation with and successful marriage of tradition and high tech.
The design of this award winning masterpiece has resulted from a successful joint design collaboration between Omrania, Atelier Frei Otto (Germany), and BuroHappold (UK), after qualifying in an international competition in 1981.
The Tuwaiq Palace is a response to the unique opportunities presented by the site, a design worthy of the majestic promontory plateau overlooking the sweeping Wadi Hanifa below and of the townscape of Riyadh beyond.
Firm Role: Joint venture with Atelier Frei Otto and BuroHappold