urbanphenomena: design+research

Jeddah Architectural Guide|PB/03

الصالة الرياضة – جامعة الملك عبدالعزيز

Sports Hall -King AbdulAziz University

1981 Atelier Frei Otto Warmbronn, Stuttgart, with Buro Rolph Gutbrod, Berlin
30 m  …..
9,000 m² (Total Usable Area) 7,500 m² (Site)


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The King Abdul-Aziz University Sports Hall is a multi-purpose hall for 5,000 spectators to host sporting events, graduation ceremonies and for use as a large lecture theater.

One of the main design requirements for the 7,500 m2 hall was to use as little material as possible. Hence, the design team opted for a cable net structure, a technology similar to that used for the German Pavilion at the Montreal Expo 1967.  The project development was a collaborative effort between the architectural offices of Frei Otto and Rolph Gutbrod and the engineering firm of Buro Happold in cooperation with Ove Arup+ Partners.  Buro Gutbrod organized the planning, Atelier Warmbronn made the physical model while Buro Happold developed the engineering for construction of the cable net and membrane superstructure. This unique collaboration between the German architects and the British engineers was one of the highlights of this project.

From a distance, the organic shape and dusty brown patina of the finished building create the impression of a sand dune in a desert landscape. The structural system consists of eight steel tube masts.  On the outside, the net is covered by a light-colored, heavyweight polyester fabric coated with PVC.  Likewise, the interior is formed by a light tent that hangs a short distance below the cable net serving as a natural ventilation system modeled after traditional Bedouin tents. Additional ventilation is achieved by openings in the mastheads. Using this method, natural air circulation eliminates the need for artificial air conditioning during the cool season. Moreover, the translucent materials create a glare-free light within the hall and help save energy.  The final design is a sensitive response to the client’s requirement to have a building that respects both the context and the landscape.

upper floor plan_2

Lower floor plan_2

Jeddah_Sports_Complex_Repros_171027_0015 - EDIT 2_resize


King Abdulaziz U

Frei Otto’s New Work. In Mimar 4: Architecture in Development, edited by Hasan-Uddin Khan. Singapore: Concept Media Ltd., 1982.
Otto, F., & Nerdinger, W. (2005).Frei Otto: Complete works: Lightweight construction, natural design. Basel: Birkhäuser.

images courtesy of Günther Schnell

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This entry was posted on September 9, 2015 by in Jeddah Architectural Guide.
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