Iconic projects that excite and inspire

King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture, ITHRA - featuring iconic contemporary design with a dynamic mix of spaces, uses and materials. Integrated lighting details, high-quality finishes and features all help to showcase and facilitate both fixed and flexible visitor experiences.

KACWC - with architecture by Snohetta, this project was inspired by the local landscape and local rock formations that preserve petroleum energy. It is Located close to the prosperity we


ll commemorating the place where oil was first discovered. At night light teases open the building, revealing life inside.

The lighting designs throughout ITHRA respond to the architectural forms and materials, and aim to establish continuity between different areas, inside and out. LIGHTING IS DYNAMIC AND RESPONSIVE to suit different times, functions and events - attracting visitors from afar and celebrating Art, Culture, Entertainment and Experience.


The design approach explores and embraces contrasting materials and forms – stainless steel pipes creating the organic forms of the façade, rammed earth walls within the plaza, copper clad event spaces, corian surfaces. The colours and appearance of finishes change under different light conditions, which influences how we perceive and illuminate these surfaces internally and externally.


Light is used to Organise the site – Through subtle variations in the scale, intensity of colour (colour temperature) of light we can make spaces legible for those who may not be familiar with the site - to assist with way-finding and create dynamic environments.

Lighting supports way-finding - revealing entrances, routes and spacesleading us into the building – We use light as an attractor, providing visual cues and variation through the location, colour, intensity or direction of lighting elements throughout.

Integrated lighting details enable the continuity of architectural themes – combining functional and enhancement lighting, preserving clean lines and minimising clutter - both visually and physically.

In many several areas lighting equipment is concealed from view - such that there is no obvious source of light – (in some cases it completely disappears from view when switched off… but several discrete layers of light provide functional light and also feature - internally and externally).

Within the shell entrances, for example - discrete light sources are concealed from view, behind selected brass fins, back-lighting some ceiling slots to softly illuminate the space below. This is no mean task as these shells form main entrances into the buildings, with security check points, so need to achieve very specific lighting conditions.


The light is interactive and variable - Different layers of light are engaged to suit different time of day, events, occupancy or proximity.

Integrated lighting details - Light tests and mock ups were created to check and refine the visual appearance, lit effect, proposed installation methods, accessibility for future maintenance, visual comfort, control and functional requirements of key features.


The Plaza - All spaces link back to a central plaza which contains an Oil fountain feature at the base - the source - with integrated light points which can be individually programmed to provide effects at selected intervals. Each of the connecting lobbies has a unique character promoting discovery.

The main plaza ceiling contains integrated light slots, expressing the architectural themes, of the veins on rock formations. The bespoke diffuse light slot systems provide general lighting but also contains directional spotlights for accent lighting to objects, areas or exhibits below. Several other layers of light are interactive and respond to daylight and ambient lighting levels.


The Library Experience. All lighting within the library is integrated within furniture, fixtures, or within architectural details - (Such as integrated lighting within bookcases, arranged around the glazed pod perimeters, embedded within solid vertical screens, concealed from view within slot details or located in seams between stretched-ceiling ceiling panels). Virtual Reality scanners and displays also provide opportunities for rich interactive experiences.


Digital content and Backlit surfaces. Integrated technology makes it easy for users to locate assistance and find what they are looking for - by approaching the interactive help points which are highlighted to improve visibility and assist with way-finding.

ITHRA has been certified as a LEED Gold standard building. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a globally-recognized sustainability certification that uses rating systems for every phase of developing and using a building – the design, construction, operation, and maintenance.


Designed by, for and with Buro Happold on behalf of

Client: Aramco / Aramco Project Management Team

Architect: Snohetta

Engineers: Buro Happold

Photography: Copyright © Andrew Shenouda - andrewshenouda.com

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