Saudi Review

The KAFD metro station ... futuristic.

The KAFD metro station ... futuristic.

Future fantastic

The design of the metro station at the King Abdullah Financial District represents opposing sine-waves that connect the exterior with the interior.

May 2014

WITH the Riyadh Metro project having just broken ground, the capital’s estimated five million residents will be introduced to a novel way of getting around the city within a span for some four years. The 176-km metro system, being built at a cost of $22.5 billion, will comprise six lines with 85 stations, making it the longest subway currently under development in the world.

In terms of design, however, the focus will be on creating metro stations of the future for this ground-breaking project in Saudi Arabia. Hence, it comes as no surprise that the authorities have selected leading London-based architect Zaha Hadid Architects to design a landmark station at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD).

The KAFD Metro Station will serve as a key interchange on the new Riyadh Metro network for Line One (Blue), as well as the terminus of Line Four (Orange for passengers to the airport) and Line Six (Purple).

The local monorail can be accessed from the station via a skybridge at the KAFD. Measuring 20,434 sq m in size, the monorail station will feature four public floors as well as two levels of underground parking levels and is intended to function as a gathering place as well as an interchange. It will be integrated within the urban context of the financial district, responding to the functional requirements of a multimodal transport centre and the district’s future vision.

The metro station ... interior.

The metro station ... interior.

“The project extends beyond the simple station typology to emphasise the building’s importance as a dynamic, multi-functional public space – not only an intermediate place perceived through quick transitions, but also a dramatic public space for the city,” says a spokesperson for Zaha Hadid Architects.

Work on the metro station, which will have an undulating form referencing Saudi Arabia’s desert sand dunes, is expected to be completed in 2017.

As per the design, the station is placed at the centre of a network of pathways, skybridges and metro lines envisaged by the KAFD masterplan. Connectivity diagrams and traffic across the site have been mapped and structured to clearly delineate the pedestrian routes within the building, optimise internal circulation and avoid congestion.

“The resulting configuration is a three-dimensional lattice defined by a sequence of opposing sine-waves (generated from the repetition and frequency variation of station’s daily traffic flows), which act as the spine for the building’s circulation. These sine-waves are extended to the station’s envelope and strictly affiliated to its internal layout, translating the architectural concept to the exterior,” the spokesperson explains.

The façade patterning reduces solar gain while its geometric perforations contextualise the station within its cultural environment. “The overall composition resembles patterns generated by desert winds in sand dunes, where multiple frequencies and repetition generate complex natural formations,” she adds.

Arriyadh Development Authority is the client of the project. Other stakeholders include Buro Happold for structural engineering, services, transport and civil engineering, and fire engineering; NewTecnic is the façade consultant; and Davis Langdon the cost consultant.

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