The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture is a bold new initiative on the part of the Saudi Aramco Oil Company to promote cultural development within the Kingdom. Following an invited architectural design competition in 2007, Snøhetta was selected to design this new prestigious cultural facility. Located in Dhahran in the Eastern Province the Cultural Center will provide for a wide range of activities serving the local population and becoming a cultural landmark on both a regional, national and global horizon. When completed, the project will contain diverse cultural facilities, including an auditorium, cinema, library, exhibition hall, museum and archive. The auditorium will seat 930 visitors and will provide for a wide range of events ranging from opera, symphony concerts, musicals and lectures etc. Together with the smaller cinema, this will be an unrivalled venue for the performing arts in the Kingdom. The library will become a center of learning containing some 200,000 books on open access and catering for all ages and categories of users. The great exhibition hall will accommodate large scale travelling exhibitions, as well as providing the setting for social events, banquets and conferences. The museum and archive facilities connect the vibrant cultural life of the center to the past and to the very roots of the society from which this center is conceived.
On May 20, 2008, the foundation stone was laid by King Abdullah, the Cultural Center is expected to be completed in 2016.
An ellipsoidal road surrounds the project and creates a common boundary for the two contrasting landscape features, the Lush Garden and the Monosurface
A longitudinal section from the early design stage shows the powerful condition of the keystone arrangement. The main stone is seen to be suspended within the public areas below ground while the remaining elements reinforce this event.
The museum spaces are organized around the central light. This is both a source of daylight, penetrating deep into the space, but also a source of inspiration for the architecture and content of this building.
Picture of the facade mock-up. This unique surface is made of CNC bent stainless steel tubes.