King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture
Like a mirage, a grey-shiny monolith juts out of the shimmering desert sand. But if you approach the sculptural facility, you soon realize that the appearance is quite realistic. The imposing cultural King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture (Ithra for short) in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, unites four museums, a library, a cinema, an auditorium for 930 visitors and several exhibition halls all under one roof. Thus, it creates the platform for a wide range of events. The developer, Saudi Aramco – one of the largest oil producers in the world – is pursuing the goal of promoting cultural development in the Kingdom with a wide variety of offers.
The winning design for the building dates back to 2007 and was created by the Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta. The head of state laid the foundation stone on 20 May 2008. After a construction period of 10 years, the centre is now completed in all its glory.
For the museum design in the Gallery 4 exhibition area, the ATELIER BRÜCKNER studio in Stuttgart, Germany, was responsible for general planning, the concept for the exhibition and design as well as scenography. As in the classic of world literature "A Thousand and One Nights", Brueckner staged many unique stories on the origin, geography, nature, economy and culture of Saudi Arabia in Gallery 4. Rosskopf + Partner AG in Obermehler, Germany, was given the responsibility by the British museum outfitter Beck Interiors Ltd to effectively implement the interior design and the unusual exhibition furniture made of solid surface material. The Thuringian solid surface material specialist awarded the design and overall project management for the implementation to the Dresden-based company 5D Engineering GmbH.
With eight thematic zones, the exhibition rooms of Gallery 4 present the bridge between past, present and future of Saudi Arabia. The different time axes are linked by means of a curved wall cladding, so-called Ribbon Walls (wall projections), from large-scale bands of solid surface material. miteinander verknüpft. The geometry with its organic shapes is a special feature: the entire installation has almost no right angles. At the same time, the parts manufactured by Rosskopf + Partner merge smoothly and coherently with the elements of other tradecrafts.
The homogeneous wall coverings were created from hundreds of individual elements made of solid surface material. They combine harmoniously with upholstered leather seat elements and handrails made of coloured solid surface material. Projections protrude into the next thematic zone as edgeless transitions. For this purpose, a total of more than 900 m² of raw solid surface material was processed. For the substructures of the walls made of 440 panels, the Rosskopf + Partner team used flame retardant MDF material in B1 quality. The bending parts made of solid surface material are meticulously connected to these panels.
Photo: ATELIER BRÜCKNER/ Daniel Stauch