Designing a Civic Landmark: the Saudi Embassy in Jordan

The skylit 3-level atrium of the Saudi Embassy in Amman, designed by Omrania, is defined by natural materials and a timelessly modern elegance. Photo © Nabil Qutteineh / Omrania


Overlooking Amman from a terraced hilltop site, the Royal Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Jordan forms a diplomatic “acropolis” that reflects an ideal of timeless dignity.


Omrania was honored to receive the commission to design the Saudi Embassy in Amman. The embassy’s Classically bold design is animated by a series of balanced contrasts between monumental and vernacular form, smooth and rough surfaces, light and heavy masses, and natural and machined materials. These contrasts symbolically mediate between host and hosted countries as well as past and present eras. The architecture responds to the site and climate through a variety of shading, screening, massing, and orientation strategies.

The various program components of the complex are organized on three main levels. The marble-clad chancellery building (5,200 sqm) occupies the western crown of the site, floating gracefully above the rest. Its U-shape plan encloses a grand ceremonial atrium—a sky-lit, three-level space ringed by cantilevered catwalks and finished in wood, stone, and glass. Louvered screens shield the open interiors from direct sunlight.


The Saudi Embassy in Amman, designed by Omrania, includes the cubic chancellery building at the top of the site, the attaché and consulate facilities on the intermediate level, and the residential compound on the eastern, lower part of the slope. Photo © Nabil Qutteineh / Omrania


Everyday activities unfold primarily on the intermediate level of the site, where a shaded entrance plaza adjoins the attaché offices (2,200 sqm) and consulate (2,100 sqm). Large masonry openings frame views of Amman’s mountains and cityscape, offering a dramatic vista to welcome all visitors. The lowest parts of the site, stepping down to the east, contains a residential compound, including a villa (500 sqm) and apartments (11,000 sqm). The embassy’s mosque serves as a hinge between two intersecting grids within the complex, one aligned with the local streets and the other aligned with Mecca and the topographic contours.


Courtyard adjoining the marble, limestone, and glass-clad chancellery building of the Saudi Embassy in Amman, designed by Omrania. Freestanding marble screens stand apart from the embassy’s main building envelope. Photo © Nabil Qutteineh / Omrania


To establish an effective security buffer around the embassy while embracing the urban context, freestanding marble screens stand apart from the embassy’s main building envelope. This outer screen reinterprets the municipal setback codes by adhering to the street edge, while creating a cavity for enhanced security and environmental performance. The resulting in-between spaces provide a shaded garden promenade with intermittent framed views of Amman. From the outside, this continuous masonry screen endows the embassy with a monumental aspect, establishing it as one of Amman’s major landmarks.

The embassy thus provides a distinguished Saudi diplomatic center while contributing to the urban landscape of Amman.

Omrania, a renowned architecture firm, has established a reputation for excellence in blending aesthetic and functional design, setting a benchmark for architecture firms in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.