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LANDFORMhouse
An Inhabited Landscape
Challenge: How can we build sustainably in the desert?
TypeResidential
Area2500 sqm
LocationKSA
StatusCompleted 2017

Employing a formal vocabulary culled from the study of the region’s past indigenous civilizations, LANDFORM draws its inspiration from the land-embedded monuments they left behind. 

Sub ServicesArchitecture, Interior Design, Landscape Design
RecognitionBREEAM Certified,
Very Good [Interim Design Phase]

Local natural materials are used to translate landscape into architecture, creating a residence that appears to be carved out of the earth, blurring the line between the natural and the artificial. The residence recreates a complete ecosystem in order to introduce, protect and improve the proliferation of local wildlife by enhancing biodiversity in the dense desert city.

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Green before their time (500 BC), the Nabateans perfected water collection & storage through the use of local materials and underground cisterns in the desert they inhabited. They used the landscape as their fortress, cunningly working in and within the earth to create camouflaged structures.

Employing a formal vocabulary culled from the, study of the region’s past indigenous civilizations LANDFORM draws its inspiration from the land-embedded monuments the Nabateans created. Local materials like natural stone are used to translate landscape into architecture, forming a residence that seems as if carved out of the earth and rising from the ground, blurring the line between the natural and the artificial.

A reinterpretation of the Garden of Paradise, the structure of the residence has a serpentine form, starting with a series of planted terraces that articulate a spatial experience leading to an accessible roof: Three garden typologies (Janna, Bustan and Rawda), inspired by the traditional Islamic garden, unwind in a procession gradually revealing the totality of the residence while remaining completely immersed in it, unveiling programmatic spaces engulfed within the landform.

 

Privacy is a crucial and cultural requirement in Riyadh. In this fence is no longer a dissociated element but rather an integral part of the architecture itself. The residence is Inwardly-oriented, with the programmatic spaces opening to the exterior using courtyards and shaded alleys, creating an effective separation between public, private and service spaces. Stemming from the different needs of th+e desert, sustainable techniques were carefully embedded into the overall architecture. Occupants receive generous natural light within spaces that are strategically open and yet completely private.

Water consumption is reduced and recycled from various points; grey water is used for irrigation. The project is anchored by two water features: the permanent chemical-free pool and the seasonal pond sized to collect the total annual rainfall from the site. It mimics the oasis through evaporative cooling process.

Energy consumption is significantly reduced and produced by renewable resources. CFD and building simulation were used to inform the shape of the building to optimize energy production and enhance ventilation.

Natural ventilation is achieved by mimicking the Malkaf, a traditional wind catcher, reinterpreted in a hybrid ventilation strategy, fitted with sensor-controlled mechanical louvers.

The harsh desert climate is mitigated using design features such as narrow alleys offering shade and echoing the alleys of the traditional medina. The ascending progression of different landscapes and architectural elements create diverse micro-climates, thus extending the cooler season.

Using local stone for cladding reduces transportation impact. The stone is rough-hewn then grooved, adding a definite man-made quality to it. The cladding is mechanically fixed to allow for natural air insulation and easy maintenance. Mineral wool insulation, HDPE pipes (replacing PVC), water-based paints, non-toxic & low VOC interior finishes are specified to ensure healthy indoor quality.
All excavated rocks were crushed on site to fill landscaped areas (instead of using grass), reducing water, costs and as well as diverting it from the landfill.

Extensive research and cross-referencing of local flora & fauna is conducted in order to choose appropriate native trees and shrubs that will attract a maximal number of birds and urban pollinators to the site. Migratory species are also studied, as Riyadh is located on an important bird migratory path.

Reverse Landscaping

Specific plant species were selected and quantified based on the water budget available grey water produced by the household on a typical day. Hence, the landscaped area and choice of fauna are calculated in relation to a daily water budget.

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