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King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture (Ithra)

King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture (Ithra)

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.

The project contains 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 2018.

Landscape, Interior, Architecture, Public Space, Master Planning, Museum & Gallery, Library, Performance Space

2007 - 2018




Dhahran, Saudi Arabia


Cultural centre


100 000 m2


Saudi Aramco

The facade's unique surface is made of CNC bent stainless steel tubes.

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.

 An ellipsoidal road surrounds the project and creates a common boundary for the two contrasting landscape features, the Lush Garden and the Monosurface

The Great Hall is an up to 13 meter-tall, multipurpose space that will host exhibitions and events. Pictured here is the Snøhetta designed "Edvard Munch: Landscapes of the Soul" exhibition.