Symbol of knowledge

The new National Library in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh completely encapsulates the original library complex, which was built in the 1980s. The library has opened its doors to the public once again, ten years after Gerber Architekten won an international competition for the project. It has become another of Riyadh’s landmark buildings, alongside the iconic Kingdom and Faisaliah Towers, and provides a new symbolic architectural image for the Riyadh cityscape. It was completed and re-opened in November 2013.

Legal depository and copyright office

The King Fahad Library is now one of the most significant cultural centers in the region. Part of a program to enable interaction, collaboration and study within the city, the structure connects with the surrounding landscape, acting as the centerpiece of an urban park – despite its huge size. The design echoes elements of Arabian culture, with a cuboid shape surrounding the previous structure to create a new series of elevations. It is a strong cultural symbol of knowledge and serves as the kingdom’s main legal depository and copyright office.

Separate female areas

The interior is a byword for comfort, providing a calming, peaceful atmosphere. The well-lit spaces simply invite an exchange of knowledge and information, as any good library should. The main hall is located at ground level, next to the exhibition areas, a bookshop and a restaurant. The first floor includes a separate area specifically for women, where female guests can relax and feel comfortable out of traditional dress.

High-quality electronic services

Following a comparative study conducted by its Director General in three international national libraries (the British Library, the Australian National Library and the National Library of Singapore), the King Fahd Library has finished its plan framework and will be launching a call for tenders soon. Sparing no effort to provide high-quality electronic services to its customers, the library has drawn up a plan consisting of several projects to be implemented within the coming five years.

New cuboid shape covers the existing building

The recent redesign involved the extension and refurbishment of an existing building. The new construction included 18,000m² of exposed single-ply roofs on a lightweight steel structure, a roof design rarely seen in Saudi Arabia. The new cuboid shape covers the existing building on all sides. The old building thus still serves as the core of the new one and provides a kind of layer of temporality from old to new, contrasting the traditional qualities of the original building against the novel materials and construction techniques of the new one.

Quick roof installation

Its contemporary structure features a stunning PTFE façade with a mechanically fastened exposed Sika Sarnafil® TPO roof. The excellent cooperation between the roofing applicator, the main contractor and the tradespeople ensured that the roof was fully protected at all times and installed far quicker than with a traditional concrete construction process. In addition, Sika was able to utilize its high-performance MTC liquid polyurethane membrane Sikalastic® 621 to waterproof the 56 cantilevered steel trusses that penetrate the roof and would have been impossible to detail using sheet material.

We can only imagine how wonderful it must be to read books in that library. You would probably never want to stop. Or maybe the lighting and ventilation through the white roof parts are so pleasant that it becomes hard to concentrate, but extremely easy to take a nap. Local sources tell us that someone was even found there once the next morning when they opened up. So this is definitely a library that you won’t want to leave.



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