Project Director of Gerber Architekten International
Engineering Innovative Building Shells for Arid Climates
The King Fahad National Library
Conversion and Extension of the existing National Library in Riyadh
The King Fahad National Library with its public plaza represents the new center of the rapidly changing Olaya District in Riyadh. The cultural importance of the building is emphasized by its scale, which clearly distincts it from the heterogeneous small scale building pattern of the surrounding district. Like a treasure box, the four storey extension encloses the existing building and creates a new single entity.
The existing building in the center is now containing the archives with over two million books. The main entrance opens to the public plaza. In its lobby, a panoramic escalator leads the visitor to what was formerly the roof of the old library and now is combined with the top level of the new structure to form the generous reading area with open stacks. Across this double-height top floor, a large new roof spans over the old and new building. Skylights in the roof with daylight systems and a translucent membrane underneath filter daylight into the reading room and down to the entrance level.
The facades are protected from the sun by a filigree textile screen following traditional Middle Eastern architectural patterns and the tradition of regional tent structures and linking them with state of the art technology. This screen protects the interior from the direct sun while at the same time allowing good daylight conditions and visual connections to the surroundings.
The King Fahad National Library has received extensive coverage in magazines and books worldwide, has received numerous awards and is shortlisted for the 2016 Aga Khan Award.