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Ministry of Culture



Service Provided: Architecture, Engineering, Landscape and Interior Design + Supervision Project Status: Completed
Phase 1 Completion Date: 2013
Phase 2: Completion Date: 2019
Location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Construction Cost:
Phase 1: 54,000,000 SAR
Phase 2: 8,387,200
Built Up Area: 46,500 sqm
Affiliations: MK2 International

Project Description:
2013 - The Ministry of Culture reflects the essence and beauty of the cultural heritage interpreted into contemporary design. The aim was to reflect this ideological reflection in the building itself. This is done through preserving the hypostyle mosque (shaikh Mohammad bin Abdulwahab mosque) as the backbone of the complex following the religious axis of Al Qibla and having the building envelope oriented toward the cultural axis of AlTuraif. Thus, the design experimentations have achieved the desired goal whereby the MOC is a bridge connecting between the past and the future, as well as being a keystone in the development of Al Bujairi area.
After achieving the intended orientation, the aim was to tone down the scale of the building prioritizing human scale and to keep the view of Al Turaif (World Heritage site) over the wadi and the harmonized landscape and continuity of its escarpment. For that, the adopted strategy was to have the roof emerging from level 0 (the ground level) and slopes up to form an extension of the terraces, while the building emerges slowly beneath it to prevent any obstacles blocking the view into Al Turaif.
The resulting architectural morphology of the MOC building, puts the Sheikh Mohamad Abdulwahab mosque in the center of a public realm that starts from the wadi, extends to the Bujairi and on the MOC roof. The roof becomes a public connected platform iterating the sociocultural notion of the roof as a social space and the fifth elevation: during hot summer nights, the Roofs of the private dwellings in old Turaif and Addiriyah were utilized as living areas. Hence in the MOC the sloping roof connects the public space of the ground and the wadi with the semi-public space of the ministry making it accessible for communal use as an open theater, meditation point and an observatory towards Al-Turaif.

As elaborated earlier, the architectural concept is based on intervening in the present, while preserving the existing traces of past to ensure continuity to the future. For that, it is imperative to distinguish each era, not to fuse the present with the past in order to express the different phases in the wheel of time. This approach was demonstrated by the architectural treatment of architectural elements and the use of materiality.

Additionally, to move into the present, DAO reinterpreted the traditional architecture element with contemporary twist. The courtyard which is a key component of the traditional fabric has both social and environmental values. The contemporary built form of the courtyards was conceived as transparent spaces for semi-public gathering within MOC.

With the slanted morphology of the building emerging from the ground, the courtyard is yet transformed into a Turma, hence, transformed from an introverted space to an extroverted transparent light well. This dual characteristic was only achievable through the merging of traditional and cultural understanding with contemporary interpretation.

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