king abdullah international gardens by BW international plants itself in riyadh
all images courtesy of barton willmore international






the extraordinary scheme of the ‘king abdullah international gardens’ (KAIG), by barton willmore international houses an array of nursery spaces in and around two interlocking crescent forms in outskirts of riyadh, saudi arabia. removed from the central city, and set in the arid desert, the gardens will mimic the plant life from the jurassic and cretaceous periods. KAIG’s overarching theme presents a chronological representation of flora in a distribution of areas and includes ‘the aviary’-a free flight facility for birds and shelter for exotic species, the ‘physics garden’-designed with the parameters of islamic geometry, and a maze that differs from traditional hedge labyrinths. the project draws on the expertise of the natural history museum, and also offers recreational areas to constitute a vast program for visitors, realized in partnership with engineers buro happold.

the 160 hectare ‘king abdullah international garden’ will house many species including a butterfly sanctuary


rendering of an interior park and lush greenery


approach to the shaded crescent shaped canopy






KAIG plans to be the largest temperature-controlled garden in the world and will incorporate techniques in power generation and water conservation designed to ensure minimal environmental impact. the park’s power requirements will be supplemented by on-site renewable technologies such as solar, wind and combined heat and power sources. water conservation will be maximised in aid from massive underground reservoirs,  allowing storage with minimal evaporation, as grey water will be recycled throughout the site. nick sweet, project director at barton willmore’s london office comments, ‘in this day and age, we are all, to one degree or another, fearful of the rapid changes in climate change occurring in the world and many are uncertain about how to respond. we wanted to use the scheme to tell the story of a single piece of land through time. it might be a desert now, but there was a time when rivers flowed here and forests grew.’ the gift to the new king is suggested to start in october of 2015 and will be completed in three stages.

entry way to one of KAIG’s many garden halls


the scope of the project includes research institutes, office facilities, shops, restaurants, a theater, and children’s room


master plan for KAIG located in the desert



 organization of spaces in detailed floor plan


render of the stone carved maze


video courtesy of BW international