Al Saedan Shopping Mall Design
Location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Scope of Services: Architectural Concept Design
Date: December 2019
Visiting shopping malls is a popular pastime in Saudi Arabia as for more than half the year, it is extremely hot outdoors. And while shopping malls are plentiful in the country, the Al Saedan shopping mall design is unique in how it integrates an environmental approach to design with a functional approach, using massing, sun, and wind studies to derive the basic form of the structure.
During the design process, CAS carefully considered vehicular and pedestrian circulation, areas of sun and shade, and functional requirements of the different areas to design an indoor/outdoor mall concept. This allows for flexibility of use, allowing the outdoor cafés and terraces to be utilized in the cooler months and bringing the outdoors inside during the warmer months.
The resulting design is functionally sound, responsive to the local environment and climate, and distinctively modern in its look and feel. Passive design methods, such as shading and proper orientation, ensure maximum efficiency of cooling systems within the mall structure.
The mall is located on a plot of 12,000 square meters, bordered on the northern and eastern sides by two major roads. After considering setbacks required by the planning department, the mall structure was designed to occupy 7,600 square meters.
To provide shade from the harsh southern sun exposure, the southern part of the mall was raised to shield the rest of the mall structure and provide a shaded internal courtyard. To draw in prevailing northerly winds, the northern mass of the mall structure was removed to create a cool, welcoming entrance for pedestrians. This was enhanced with an attractive water feature with fountains, which attracts people to the mall and directs them toward the entrance.
The mass was further broken down into smaller massing forms to accommodate the different shops, core areas, and cafés. The final massing form was derived through careful consideration of internal circulation by providing clear connections for the various spaces within the shopping mall design.
The elevation of the mall fits perfectly into the urban fabric of the city. Open and inviting on the northern side, a canopy supported on slender columns beckons pedestrians to explore the delightful courtyard and the mall shops beyond. Cafés and restaurants on the ground level are inward facing to take maximum advantage of the cooling, shaded courtyard, which also helps to keep out the sounds of the road abutting the northern and eastern sides of the mall.
On the first-floor level, the cafés and restaurants are set back toward the road, creating usable inward-facing terraces that are ideal for outdoor dining.
The ground floor façade on the northern elevation is predominantly glass, giving road-facing shops maximum frontage. The glass façade also contributes to the modern look of the mall, making it feel light and airy.
Anchoring the architecture on the southeast corner is the large multipurpose hall, designed as a single, metal-clad, monolithic mass. The weight and size of this corner balances the open glass façades of the lower level and grounds the shopping mall design.
The mall structure is set back from the main roads; the setback on these two sides is utilized for open-air parking and landscaping, which provides relief from the noise of the adjacent roads.
The southern and western façades of the mall elevation are taller, with fewer openings to compensate for the harsh afternoon and evening sun.
Contrasting colors in the light stone cladding juxtapose with the dark brown façade to create visual interest. These colors are also a response to the hot summer dust storms (shamals) when the fierce northwesterly winds blow columns of sand. The light stone and dark brown colors minimize the degrading effects of these storms on the architecture.
The play on massing creates a series of intimate terrace spaces that are covered by projecting canopies, shielding occupants from the harsh summer sun. These terraces are great connecting spaces, aiding circulation and also enabling the creation of spaces where people can relax and enjoy an outdoor meal.
A design that is sensitive to the locale, climate, and region is what sets this shopping mall design apart from the many other malls in Riyadh. The architects have integrated weather studies and circulation patterns and created interesting connections to make a modern design that is perfectly suited to the urban fabric of this vibrant city.