morphosis architects: king abdullah petroleum studies and research center
morphosis architects: king abdullah petroleum studies and research center morphosis architects: king abdullah petroleum studies and research center
feb 09, 2010

morphosis architects: king abdullah petroleum studies and research center

the new king abdullah petroleum studies and research center by morphosis architects all images courtesy morphosis architects




the new king abdullah petroleum studies and research center (KAPSARC) is a tangible symbol of environmental innovation. morphosis architects proposal redefines the traditional campus into a three dimensional master plan of interconnected built form and planted landscapes that accommodate discrete zones of public and private program while also creating intersection and overlap between the two. embedded in this sculpted environment, an iconic hybrid building emerges amidst a protected oasis of native desert flora and naturally cooling reflecting pools.




traditionally, walled oasis villages (such as the old city of dir’iyah, the ancestral home of the al-sauds and the birthplace of the saudi-wahhabi union) have incubated the expansion of culture in the region. the new KAPSARC master plan is rooted in the historical model of the oasis village: pools of recycled water naturally cool the air and create a habitable climate; gardens of endangered desert plants surround and weave between the architecture; and the iconic research center building rises at the core of the site, with walls radiating out to offer both symbolic and literal protection. as if generated by the dynamism of the research nucleus, the security walls and glowing light bars emanate from the center—building becomes wall, which in turn activates and organizes the site.




parallel to cultural responses to the environment, which have yielded typologies like the walled oasis village, desert plants around the world have evolved optimal forms to thrive in extreme climates. for example, the cactus, a typical desert ecosystem plant native to the americas, has developed a maximum volume with minimal surface area, to mitigate the plant’s exposure to the elements and protect its precious supply of water. inspired by the cactus’s compact, efficient form, our proposal concentrates the public and research program areas into a single, hybrid building, to afford the center and its users a space that offers both comfortable respite from the desert, and social, cultural, and intellectual intensity.




KAPSARC’s core intellectual mission – research on energy and the environment – forms the iconic heart, or nucleus, around which all of the center’s public and private programs converge. the nucleus takes architectural form as an ovoid that emerges from the sculpted landscape, with all other program and site elements radiating out from this core. the ovoid’s iconographic power palpably conveys KAPSARC’s identity to the outside world; simultaneously, the research center serves as the intensified hub for the inner life of the complex.




the icon also serves as a connector; its striated lattice formally connects with the key public spaces, and its built form is embedded in and interwoven with the structure of the campus.

  • just call me ‘king dull

    ah says:

    Tiago says:
  • what a grotesque form in the middle of nowhere!

    wazi94611 says:
  • that office has faded away………..

    erie says:
  • Fantastic. The ability to use modern construction methods to create a building with traditional elements, in a way that’s empathetic with the environment in which it lies d;-)

    Jetwax says:

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