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KAUST Campus Weathers Extremes (Saudi Arabia)

Credits: ©2009 HOK

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia is a 6.5-million-sq.ft. LEED Platinum project that consists of two parts: the campus and the university town with facilities and accommodations for students, faculty and staff. In the Saudi Arabian climate, a delicate balance exists between controlling solar heat gain and allowing sufficient natural daylight into occupied spaces. KAUST campus buildings utilize overhangs, fixed exterior louvers, dynamic exterior louvers, atria, skylights, and mechanical shading systems to ensure that this balance is achieved. The continuously sunny conditions in Saudi Arabia offer more potential for solar power utilization than in any other place in the world. The monumental roof for the KAUST campus has been designed to incorporate massive solar thermal arrays to provide domestic hot water to all campus buildings, and solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays to generate and distribute power to campus buildings based upon demand. Future arrays can be incorporated to supplement increased energy demands in the future.

The two rooftop solar plants on the North and South Laboratory buildings will occupy nearly 12,000 square meters, have a maximum output of one megawatt each, and produce up to 3,300 megawatt hours of clean energy annually. This output will save nearly 1,700 tons of annual carbon emissions and equals carbon offsets for 7.3 million miles of air travel.


Kaust University Campus Aerial (Saudi Arabia)

Kaust University features sustainable planning/design for an extreme climate, along with protection of the fragile coastal ecosystem, away from the landfill strategies seen on Jeddah’s coast, including a coral-reef ecosystem preserved for use as a marine sanctuary and research area. ©2009 J.B. Picoulet – S. Lourié

The master plan makes the development as compact as possible by integrating individual buildings into two larger, interconnected facilities that share a single roof covered by photovoltaics. The master plan manages water issues in this rain-scarce region in a responsible way. The site's graywater will be used for toilet flushing and irrigation, and a rainwater retention system will serve the campus hardscape. Though construction of landfills in the Red Sea was an option available for accommodating the building program, the master plan does not do this. Instead, the plan protects the site, which features very shallow beach conditions and fragile mangrove lagoons. A spectacular coral-reef ecosystem is preserved for use as a marine sanctuary and research area.

The service and circulation core is located at the center of the plan, freeing the perimeter for books, study areas, computers, etc. The lateral facades have a translucent double skin with a steel structure. This skin allows the interior to be filled with natural light. At the end of the volume, overlooking the sea, the interior takes all the height with a space for group and individual study, with a great view. Transversal to these volumes, there is an open circulation that connects all the buildings. As you can see, the mass of the volumes cast big shadows protecting the entrances to the interior spaces. Between the volumes are covered patios with perforated roofs that filter the light and allows the air to flow. Fountains on the ground level cool the air, which is constantly flowing through these chimneys.

Inside the research buildings are triple height spaces at the centers. These spaces, intersected by open bridges, visually connect the different work areas. Most of the facades are covered with terracota panels in a dark tone, stone, glass and steel brise soleil, perforated roofs and translucent sheets, using traditional concepts from Arabic architecture applied in a contemporary way (filtering of the sun, use of water, massing, etc.).

The Project
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is grounded in a rich historic tradition with considerable natural and human resources. Today the Kingdom is a vibrant and dynamic country with approximately 70 percent of its population under the age of 30 and 50 percent under the age of 15. The explosive growth created by this "baby boom" has created significant opportunities for leveraging the substantial financial recourses of the Kingdom. As a result, a series of economic development initiatives and physical infrastructure improvements are being implemented to meet the needs of future generations. One of these initiatives is the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

The world-class research university and new town are built on a picturesque 3,200-acre site along the Red Sea on the west coast of Saudi Arabia, north of Jeddah. The master plan encompasses the four million square foot campus, a commercial town center and the entire public realm. The development rises on a flat, undeveloped desert site with very little vegetative cover on a coastal plain along a natural harbor of the Red Sea. The coastal site rests between Thuwal, one of the area's best-known fishing villages, and a Saudi Navy base. Adjacent to the site is King Abdullah Economic City, a future city now being built in stages to accommodate a total population of two million people.

The client -- Aramco Services Company of North America, a subsidiary of the Saudi Aramco Oil Company -- has initiated the ambitious multi-billion dollar campus and new town development as a nation-changing project that will help transform Saudi Arabia's economy and reform its higher education system. The goal for the research institutes and centers is to inspire a new age of scientific achievement in the Kingdom, the region and the world.

The master planning team compressed a process that typically would take about a year, down to just five months. To do this, the team invested enormous amounts of time and leveraged true collaboration across the firm. The HOK Planning Group kicked off the project with a "Racing the Sun" design charrette in which planners from 10 offices across multiple time zones contributed to the plan over one 24-hour period. Each HOK office had a two-hour window to create its ideas and post them on a server. In the end, each contributed an idea that ultimately found its way into the final plan.

The Plan
To reflect its prominence as the center of activity, the university is centrally located on the site. The highly visible waterfront location also represents the overarching goal of creating a world renowned state-of-the-art research institution. Researchers can work closely with private corporations located in an adjacent research park. Though the university will provide an ultramodern environment for conducting the world's best multidisciplinary research, the master plan organizes the campus around traditional planning principles that include an entry quadrangle and a central pedestrian spine connecting all buildings.

University Square provides a seamless transition between the academic and community zones. It houses community functions including a theater, public library, post office, recreational services and other activities that support campus living. As the intersection of campus life and daily activities, the commercial center balances a complex academic structure with an indigenous architecture rooted in the cultural traditions of Saudi Arabia. Influenced by the region's "Old Quarter" souks and markets, the center is characterized by a pedestrian scale environment and a complementary architectural style. An interlaced series of plazas, walkways, walkable connector streets, open spaces and bridges provide access to dining, retail, student housing and residential neighborhoods with more than 2,800 units.

Inspiring a New Age of Scientific Achievement
The university, which expects to enroll over 2,000 graduate-level students from throughout the world, will be Saudi Arabia's first coeducational higher education institution. King Abdullah personally has provided a $10 billion endowment, creating the world's tenth-wealthiest university before it even opens.

Alternative transportation reduces campus emissions and provides convenient transit options.
• One hundred shared electric vehicles and charging stations are distributed across campus, and additional vehicles will be added as the University grows in size.

• Three campus shuttle bus system lines with dedicated stops across campus serve the entire community.

• A Segway and bicycle sharing system provide additional short-distance travel options in most months of the year.

Renewable energy helps cool and power the campus.
• Two solar towers use the sun and prevailing winds to create a passive pressure difference and continuous breeze along the shaded courtyards and allow exterior courtyard occupants to feel comfortable for more than 75 percent of the year.

• 4,134 square meters of solar thermal panels for hot water production and 16,567 square meters of photovoltaic arrays installed on the monumental roof will produce 4 megawatts of renewable energy, offsetting 5.7 percent of total campus energy demand.

• A proposed 900,000 square meter solar energy will eventually provide 100 percent of all campus energy needs and make the University carbon neutral.

• The University has contracted to obtain 35 percent of the total campus energy needs from an outside renewable energy provider.

The natural habitat surrounding KAUST has been preserved and protected.
• A long-term habitat preservation, restoration and protection plan was implemented during construction and will continue through the University’s existence for the 182,988,000 square feet of coral reef and 21,528,000 square feet of mangrove ecosystems on campus.

Campus architecture is designed to maximize the area’s unique microclimate and ecosystem.
• The University’s monumental roof connects and shields campus buildings from direct sun, resulting in a minimum solar reflective index value of 78 for 92.7 percent of the roof’s surface.
• Atria and courtyards throughout campus buildings infuse natural daylight and ventilation into 75 percent of interior spaces.

Campus construction and design teams selected building materials that minimized environmental effects and recycled waste materials.
• 37.8 percent of the total building materials comprise materials and/or products either harvested or manufactured within 500 miles of the University, such as stone or concrete.

• 99.7 percent of all wood-based building materials used in construction were harvested from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

• 20 percent of the total building materials (such as steel, aluminum, and glass) were manufactured using recycled materials.

• More than 79 percent, or 35,169 tons, of all construction waste generated on site was recycled and diverted from landfill.

Water and material use has been minimized through innovative design and on-site treatment plants and recycling programs.
• 100 percent of KAUST’s wastewater is treated by the campus Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP). All treated wastewater is either safely returned to the environment or used on site. 100 percent of all campus irrigation needs are provided by the WWTP, and 2.5 million gallons of treated water per day will be available in 2010.

• Installed irrigation systems using recycled water reduce irrigation water consumption by 53.8 percent of estimated need.

• Waterless urinals, ultra-low flow lavatories, and low-flow public showers reduce potable water use by 40.9 percent from a calculated baseline design.

• Native and adaptive vegetation were which do not require large amounts of irrigation were selected for a majority of the plantings on campus.

• A stormwater management plan reduces impervious cover, promotes groundwater infiltration, and will capture and treat 100 percent of average annual rainfall runoff.

• A campus-wide recycling program will recycle cardboard, paper, plastic, glass and metal.

Energy efficiency measures reduce total power demand.
• Technology like chilled beams and under-floor air distribution have been incorporated into designs to achieve energy cost savings of 24.5 percent.

• Highly efficient mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems reduce the overall energy demand of the campus.

• Non-emergency occupancy sensors automatically turn off lighting systems when a room is unoccupied and astronomic time-clock systems calculate sunrise/sunset times each day to automatically dim interior lights.


HOK Architects