Riyadh’s Tuwaiq Palace is the newest DQ attraction

Riyadh’s Tuwaiq Palace is the newest DQ attraction
Updated 08 November 2013

Riyadh’s Tuwaiq Palace is the newest DQ attraction

Riyadh’s Tuwaiq Palace is the newest DQ attraction

Tuwaiq Palace is a unique addition to the Diplomatic Quarter (DQ) in Riyadh as a tourist attraction.
Many embassies have held diplomatic functions at the palace to celebrate their National Days. These include the Philippine Embassy, which uses the locale to celebrate its National Day on June 12, and the Mexican Embassy, which celebrates on Sept. 16 every year.
Philippine Ambassador Ezzedin H. Tago said: “The Tuwaiq Palace is iconic for diplomats in the Kingdom. Besides its unique architecture, it serves as a venue for farewell receptions for outgoing envoys.” He said, “You have beautiful views of lush greenery, wide open spaces and birds flying in the clear blue skies.”
Mexican Ambassador Jose Arturo Trejo Nava added, “Tuwaiq Palace is an excellent facility. It has wonderful architecture. It’s good for holding national day celebrations and greatly facilitates diplomatic life.”
Cultural festivals, as well as workshops, conferences and seminars, are also held at Tuwaiq Palace.
Built in 1985, Tuwaiq Palace lives up to its reputation as a prime cultural facility.
“The Diplomatic Club should be an important international recreation center for diplomats, their families and their guests in Saudi Arabia,” read its mission statement.
However, the objective was later revised “to serve the higher purpose of raising awareness of Saudi cultural life in the international community.”
Eller B. Mendoza, an architect at a local contracting company, said, “It is unique because its architecture is in harmony with its surroundings. Known originally as the Diplomatic Club, it stands on a high limestone plateau dominating the palm-filled Wadi Hanifa.”
He said that seen from a distance, its design makes it look like a ruined fort surrounded by an encampment.
There were two key criterions considered for its design. Firstly, that architects respect the natural setting on the valley’s edge and second, that they honor its desert location by planting lush greenery within 100 meters of the structure.
The sinuous, 800-meter-long terraced wall that wraps the building on its western flank, provides numerous views of the desert beyond, and the man-made oasis at its center.
Its huge tent-like structures made of fiberglass and coated with Teflon, blend with the wall along the escarpment and capture both the eye and the imagination.
These tents meet the spatial requirements for banquets, dining and reception halls, as well as the sports hall. They are supported at their tops by radial cables attached to the walls by steel anchors, and on the ground by masts hinged to anchor blocks.
One of the tents has three interior levels, making it even more versatile. The tents reflect Saudi Arabia’s mobile, desert-based Bedouin culture. The walls represent its settled oases and cities.
The central facilities include a reception hall for 300 people, meeting rooms, a multipurpose hall for 50 to 300 people, music and TV rooms as well as a library. It also has 30 rooms to accommodate guests, including a children’s wing; outdoor spaces and indoor sports (swimming, squash, tennis, volleyball, sauna, billiards and bowling); and restaurants (dining room for 300 people, cafeteria for 50 people, meeting rooms, and an outdoor restaurant with a capacity of 100 people).
Tuwaiq Palace was built by Atelier Frei Otto of Germany and the structural engineering firm Buro Happold of Great Britain. It was the work of Basim Al-Shihabi. Located on an area spanning 75,000 sq meters, Tuwaiq Palace won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1998.