Listing 2 blog articles for the tag Saudi Arabia.
My first weekly comment on the upper reaches of architectural developments takes us to Saudi Arabia, where Zaha Hadid has been appointed to design the new King Abdullah Financial District Metro Station in Riyadh. The architect herself states: “The project extends beyond the simple station typology to emphasize the building’s importance as a dynamic, multi-functional public space; not only an intermediate place perceived through quick transitions, but also a dramatic public space for the city.”
Dramatic it certainly is. It should be noted, however, the epic monetary transactions within a Las Vegas casino are also dramatic, as is the turning of a virgin skydiver’s stomach as they sit on the edge of an airplane at 15,000 feet. The point being, drama is only occasionally desirable. Hadid chose entirely the wrong occasion here.
As a commuter, do I want to be funneled with a stream of quietly panicking businessmen through a lattice of bridges and passageways, intermittently colliding with bewildered foreign visitors, unsure if they are at the head or the tail of this undulating matrix of concrete? Traversing tube stations in London, I always felt the person ahead of me was walking a little too slowly, whilst the one behind me was a little too fast; the concertina effect pained everyone involved. If there is an architectural recipe for the perfect heel-tripping experience, I believe Zaha may have stumbled upon it. No pun intended.
The paths are allegedly generated out of an in-depth study of daily pedestrian flows through the station concourse, resulting in ‘a sequence of opposing sine-waves’. The result is an internal space with a distinct lack of reference points for orientation, and a horizon line that shifts and mutates with every apprehensive step. Vanishing points are as difficult to discern as they are in the middle of the Arabian Sea, which may be appropriate given that the building looks like a gargantuan ocean liner, embarrassingly beached 1000 kilometres inland.
The sine wave ‘logic’ leads to a structure that mimics the rolling dunes of the surrounding desert – is this because of its open, panoramic spaces, awe-inspiring views and herds of oryx running free in the sunset? No. It’s because it is exhausting to navigate, inhuman in scale, and it goes on, and on, and on… seemingly forever.
Agree? Disagree? State your case here. Freedom of speech and honesty are the order of the day.
The Angry Architect
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