Zaha Hadid-designed research centre in Saudi Arabia wins award

Riyadh building takes award for excellence in concrete construction

King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Hufton+Crow/Zaha Hadid Architects
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The late architect Zaha Hadid has won an award for her innovative design of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The American Concrete Institute honoured the Riyadh building with an award of excellence in concrete construction.

The award recognises the industry’s “most creative visions and projects".

With stark white rounded edges and a modular design, the research centre resembles a honeycomb, bearing the signature curved lines of Hadid’s portfolio of work.

“In nature, hexagonal prismatic honeycomb structures use the least amount of material to create a lattice of cells within any given volume," Zaha Hadid Architects said.

"This natural principle determined Kapsarc’s composition as an amalgamation of crystalline forms that emerges from the desert landscape."

Hadid's many other works include the Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi, and the Roca London Gallery.

The Kapsarc building houses a non-profit institution for research into the energy sector.

Experts meet there to discuss challenges in energy economies and to develop policies that reduce the environmental impact and costs within the energy sector.

The campus incorporates five buildings: the energy knowledge centre; the energy computer centre; a conference centre with an exhibition hall and 300-seat auditorium; a research library with archives for 100,000 volumes; and the Musalla, a place for prayer and contemplation.

The building was designed to minimise energy consumption.

“Presenting a solid, protecting shell to the harsh sunlight from the south, the campus opens to north and west, encouraging prevailing winds to cool the campus via a series of sheltered courtyards that bring softly-controlled daylight into the interior,” Zaha Hadid Architects said.

“'Wind catchers' integrated within the roof profiles direct the prevailing winds from the north into each courtyard for cooling.”

Hadid was awarded the Kapsarc contract after winning a 2009 design competition held by Aramco. She was the only female entrant in the contest.

It is the first project from the Iraq-born architect to be awarded the LEED Platinum certification by the US Green Building Council.

The building has also been named Saudi Arabia’s "smartest" building in the Honeywell Smart Building Awards programme.

Known as the Queen of the Curve for her fluid designs, Hadid won the biggest awards in her field, including the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004 and the Stirling Prize twice, in 2010 and 2011.

Her unexpected death of a heart attack while being treated for bronchitis at 65, came at a time when several of her buildings were still being built.