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DETAIL Prize 2014: King Fahad National Library
Nominated for the DETAIL Prize 2014:
Gerber Architekten, Eckhard Gerber, Dortmund, Germany
King Fahad National Library, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
The King Fahad National Library in Saudi Arabia by Gerber Architekten combines the challenges of construction work on existing buildings with respect for Arab culture. The new rectangular building surrounds the old library on all sides and formulates a new architectural image in the city of Riyadh. The new building is enveloped by a filigree textile facade, which is based on traditional designs of the Middle East and associates these with new technologies. The defining element of the facade is an ornamental structure of diamond-shaped fabric sails. Clamped white membrane surfaces, held in place by a tensile-strained steel-wire construction, serve as a sunscreen and interpret the Arabic tradition of tent structures in a modern way. The huge temperature differences in Saudi Arabia presented a particular challenge. In the summer the steel cables can heat up to 80° Celsius and expand accordingly, whereas in the winter material shrinkage occurs when night temperatures drop below freezing point. The facade forms part the building's ventilation and cooling system, which uses layer ventilation and underfloor cooling. This increases thermal comfort and reduces energy consumption significantly.