A “New Nature” Park Using Recycled Water

  In Riyadh, water is so precious that it must be used more than once. Recaptured, treated municipal water is not only used for irrigation and industrial cooling, but also, occasionally, for recreational purposes.   This is the case is the new Prince Sattam Park, a passive-leisure space currently under construction on the city’s western…

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Alvar Aalto’s Regionally-Specific Modern Architecture

  Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) embraced international modernism — but modified it to fit the culture and climate of his home country, Finland. His work in architecture and interior design reflects a decades-long effort to balance modern technology with nature and craft traditions.   Aalto’s strong sense of place was apparent in one of his first…

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Construction update: Saudi Electricity Company headquarters complex

  The Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) headquarters complex, designed and engineering by Omrania, is quickly rising on its 265,000 square-meter site in the northern suburbs of Riyadh.   Our latest construction video shows the four office buildings surrounding what will become the central podium building filled with shared employee and guest amenities — all designed to…

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Book Review – Riyadh: Oasis of Heritage and Vision

. Riyadh, Omrania’s home city, has grown at a breakneck speed over the past few decades. Yet much of the world remains unaware of both its deeper heritage and its bold future, as projected in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. A new book offers a wealth of information and imagery.   Riyadh: Oasis of Heritage and…

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How the Hancock Center and Tube Structures Changed Skyscraper History

. In the 1960s, engineer Fazlur R. Khan, working for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), proposed a new way for tall buildings to support themselves.   Instead of relying upon a conventional steel frame system, he pushed most of the structural elements to the perimeter, so that the entire building would behave structurally as a…

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Documentary: Arab Women in Architecture

  “Arab Women in Architecture” is a documentary film featuring interviews with 19 architects from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia.   Produced in connection with the Omrania | CSBE Student Award for Architectural Design in 2013, the 56-minute film explores the subject of the practice of architecture by Arab women architects and…

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8 Features of the Vernacular Architecture of the Hejaz

  The idea of “vernacular architecture” might initially conjure images of Italian hill town plazas or the whitewashed, blue-trimmed houses of Sidi bou-Said, Tunisia. Fewer people are familiar with the vernacular architecture of Saudi Arabia’s western region, called the Hejaz, which was the subject of a significant research project by Omrania.   Our team found…

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Salam Park: Activating the Landscape

  Riyadh, once an ancient oasis settlement, is now a modern metropolis, but it has not forgotten its green roots. At the heart of the city lies Salam Park, designed by Omrania with Aukett Fitzroy Robinson, an urban oasis that represents a breakthrough in environmental planning and design for Riyadh.   Since opening in 2003,…

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Expo 67 and the Promise of New Technology

  “A great World’s Fair,” according to Museum of Modern Art curator Paola Antonelli, “is a plausible fantasy based on the impact of science and technology on society.” The 1967 International and Universal Exposition, known as Expo 67, which opened to the public on 27 April 1967 and attracted more than 50 million visitors to…

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The Evolution of Mosque Architecture

  Mosques are more than places of worship — they are community gathering spaces that take a variety of forms depending on their cultural and environmental context. Since the foundation of Islam in the seventh century CE, the architecture of mosques has reflected the various roles they have played in Muslim society, including educational, civic, ceremonial,…

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The GOSI building and the inception of Omrania

  In 1973, in the context of a rapidly growing Riyadh, Mr. Basem Shihabi teamed with Mr. Nabil Fanous to enter a limited design competition for the new headquarters of the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI). Their proposal for a modern yet timeless building won the competition, leading them to open a small atelier…

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Engineering a City of Bridges

  The hilltop city of Constantine, Algeria, perched on a plateau 640 meters above sea level, has long been shaped by its extreme topography. Bisected by the gorge of the Rhumel River, it is known as the “City of Bridges,” with the ancient citadel or “kasbah” on one side and the modern city on the…

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