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  • King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture – ITHRA

King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture – ITHRA

Dhahran, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia

When the area around the fish­ing vil­lage of Dammam became the first com­mer­cial oil field in Saudi Arabia in 1938, nobody could have fore­seen that, almost 90 years later, it was to become the country‘s cul­tural centre.

Yet not only the choice of loca­tion is sym­bolic. The King Abdu­laziz Center for Global Cul­ture, a build­ing com­plex also known as the ​“Ithra” (Arabic for enrich­ment), has been designed as a col­lec­tion of stones that, although sep­a­rate and dif­fer­ing in size, form a single unit as a mass of rock. The 80,000 m² facil­ity con­tains, among other things, a library, a knowl­edge tower, an idea lab, a museum with four gal­leries, a cinema and the­atre as well as an energy exhi­bi­tion.

The light­ing in the exte­rior grounds is in har­mony with the nat­ural lan­guage of the archi­tec­ture. By day, the organic design of the Selux Olivio lumi­naires blends per­fectly into the sur­round­ing park land­scape. At dusk the seven-metre Grande sized high poles from the Sis­tema design line with four arms and four lumi­naire heads each immerse the sur­round­ings in a pleas­ant light – styl­ishly empha­sis­ing this spec­tac­u­lar build­ing.

architect: Snøhetta, Norway

lighting designer: Buro Happold, London / AhmadElq

general contractor: ARAMCO, Dhahran

photographer: Buro Happold

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