Riyadh National Library, named after King Fahad, is one of the most important cultural buildings in the Saudi capital. Gerber Architekten expanded an existing building constructed in 1980 in line with Arabian culture and traditions. The architects gave the construction a new urban image with a fabric skin wrapping around the entire building and giving it a cube shape. The white diamond-shaped fabric membranes used to cover the façade create a peekaboo look like a new interpretation of the traditional Arabian mashrabiya, sheltering the building from the sun’s rays and heat without consuming energy.
The original building is now englobed in the new bookshop, forming its cultural centre. The dome over it has been replaced with a steel and glass structure providing natural lighting for the reading rooms.
The library has been shortlisted for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture along with 18 other finalists, including Superkilen by BIG, the Issam Fares Institute in Beirut by Zaha Hadid Architects and the Doha Tower in Qatar by Atelier Jean Nouvel.
Design: Gerber Architekten International
Location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Images courtesy of Aga Khan Award for Architecture, photo by AKAA / Cemal Emden