King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, designed by global architectural firm HOK, has been selected as one of the 2010 "Top Ten Green Projects" by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE). The annual awards program honors sustainable projects resulting from an integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology.
The project is a new international, graduate-level research university established to drive innovation in science and technology and to support world-class research in areas such as energy and the environment. As Saudi Arabia's first LEED certified project and the world's largest LEED-NC Platinum project, KAUST is a new international, graduate-level research university established to drive innovation in science and technology and to support world-class research in areas such as energy and the environment.
All photographs: © JB Picoulet
All plans and Renderings: © HOK
HOK designed the 6.5-million-square-foot campus on a highly visible 9,000-acre site along the Red Sea, 50 miles north of Jeddah. HOK's design team had to produce their design within restraining parameters. They needed to respond to the context of an extremely hot, humid climate, where they were asked to create a low-energy, highly sustainable project, create a contemporary work of architecture that would resonate with the global scientific community while being firmly rooted in local Saudi culture, and finally, design an institution of the highest physical quality at a historically unprecedented speed—from conception to completion in just three years.
The project team integrated a series of innovative strategies to create a low-energy, highly sustainable project in the context of an extremely hot, humid climate. They employed five strategies that borrow from local culture and traditions to solve environmental issues:
- Structured like traditional Arabic cities, the campus is compressed as much as possible to minimize the amount of exterior envelope exposed to the sun and to reduce outdoor walking distances.
- As found in a traditional souk or Arabic market, shaded and passively cooled circulation thoroughfares are characterized by dramatic light and social spaces.
- The Arabic Bedouin tent inspired designers to create a monumental roof system that spans across building masses to block sun on building facades and into the pedestrian spine, to facilitate natural ventilation and to filter light. Solar panels covering the surface capture the sun's energy.
- Passive ventilation strategies of the traditional Arabic house influenced the design of iconic, solar-powered wind towers that harness energy from the sun and wind to passively create air flow in pedestrian walkways.
- Similar to Arabic screening called 'mashrabiya,' the campus shades windows and skylights with an integral shading system that reduces heat loads while creating dramatic dappled light.
The project saves on water consumption (100% wastewater reuse, 42% water reduction), energy (27.1% annual energy cost savings, 7.8% on-site renewable energy, 80% of glazing shaded year-round) and materials (20% recycled content, 38% regional materials, 99% wood from Forest Stewardship Council sources, 80% construction waste management).
"Because the research and development of renewable resources drives KAUST’s research agenda, sustainable development is integral to its overall mission," says HOK Design Principal Bill Odell, FAIA. "By integrating sustainable measures into the site planning, community, building design and campus operations, the university is demonstrating new ways to build in the region and promoting responsible stewardship of the environment."
Location: Thuwal, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Building type(s): Campus
Area: 5,340,000 ft2 (496,000 m2)
Completed September 2009
Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED-NC, v.1.0--Level: Platinum
Plans and diagrams