Foster + Partners, Riyadh architecture

Foster + Partners designs a diamond-shaped tower for Samba bank’s Riyadh headquarters

The new headquarters of Saudi Arabia’s Samba bank and financial services group is being designed by Foster and Partners. It is located in the heart of Financial Plaza, the centrepiece of King Abdullah Financial District, a new commercial development almost three times bigger than London’s iconic Canary Wharf. The 40-storey tower, surrounded by a tightly grouped cluster of buildings, will provide 92,903m2 of office accommodation above ground, in addition to basement retail levels that connect to the district-wide mall.

The building is diamond-shaped and centred on a top-lit, full building height atrium. A raised canopy protects the atrium from direct sunlight, and indirect light is reflected deep into the office floor plates by its tessellated glass interior. The northern elevation is punctuated by three four-storey sky gardens, which encourage social interaction and allow daylight to reach the atrium. The tower employs a cool, crisp palette of colours and materials, inside and out, with a crystalline atrium, jewel-like turquoise lift cars and a richly textured facade made up of triangulated glass panels. Their design responds to the complex challenge of Riyadh’s climate, where temperatures range from zero degrees in winter to the extreme, dry heat of summer and occasional heavy rains. Each panel is made up of facets, with opaque canopy panels and two different types of high performance reflective glass.

The tower is topped by a 70-metre high spire, which is illuminated at night as a landmark for the bank. The spire also acts as a radiator, capturing cooling northerly breezes and using water to cool the roof-mounted array of advanced photovoltaic panels to enhance their efficiency.

Photos: Foster + Partners

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