two almost identical structures which flank the Al Faisaliah tower
So far Riyadh has avoided the race for height ubiquitous throughout the Middle East. Its two major icons, the Kingdom and the Al Faisaliah towers, emerge from the flatness of the city, lingering over the city like a mirage.
How long will Riyadh preserve its unique character? With the lifting of height restrictions in the central spine, Riyadh is facing an onslaught of new towers, new icons, competing for prominence. A radical transformation of the city seems only a matter of time. Currently lone monuments, Kingdom and Al Faisaliah will be subsumed into an inevitable mass of signals. For the first time Riyadh will possess what has become the standard DNA of the contemporary city: a skyline.

The premise of this project is not to vie for attention by adding a redundant icon, but rather to introduce a structure that will preserve and enhance the current Al Faisaliah tower's presence and ensure its continued existence as one of Riyadh's major symbols.
Not one, but two almost identical structures, one white, one black, flank the Al Faisaliah tower. The first tower contains all the major office and hotel program required by the brief, the second tower, placed on a site yet to be acquired, acts as a strategic reserve to exploit the full potential of the site. It contains further office program in addition to the brief and 36 floors of service apartments to meet the needs of a new generation of business workers.

The towers are connected via a plinth that links all the lower levels of existing and new development and addresses the height difference between the north and the south side of the site. The plinth contains the office and hotel lobbies, the retail program, and conference and business centre, while creating a platform for a Mosque for 900 people. The roof of the plinth acts as a large public garden, shaded by a grid of trees.

Both towers have concrete exteriors that are perforated for fenestration. The pattern of the fenestration gradually transforms across each façade in response to the path of the sun. The tapered base of the towers reduces their presence on the ground to only their circulation cores, and echoes – while inverting – the pyramid shape of the existing Faisaliah Tower.

The specific composition and placement of the new towers allows the original Al Faisaliah tower to shift in and out of visibility depending on the view. Together, the new towers frame the Al Faisaliah like a pair of quotation marks, setting the building apart, but also giving it a different grounding in the city's new DNA.

The second tower is a trump card to be played once the city's transformation has reached a new stage. As such, the two new towers are not only a physical bracketing, but also a bracketing over time, where the first tower kicks off the 'liberation' of the central strip and the second tower captures its apotheosis.



Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Program Tower 1:
Office 106,206m2, hotel 40,840m2, technical 11,785m2

Program Tower 2:
Office 47,208m2, serviced apartments 102,520m2, podium 156,180m2

Total including parking:
526,854 m2

Total excluding parking:

406,716 m2


Local Architect:
Saudi Consulting Services

Maria Derevencova, Martin Gallovsky

Vincent de Rijk

Model photography:
Frans Parthesius

Graphic design:
Irma Boom


Partners in charge:
Rem Koolhaas, Reinier de Graaf

Beth Hughes

Iyad Alsaka, Katrin Betschinger, Bob de Boer, Johan Dehlin, Lukas Haller, Joyce Hsiang, Bin Kim, Martin Maleschka, Mirai Morita, Tosin Oshinowo, Ippolito Pestellini, Aras Sen, Miguel Valerio, Tudor Vlasceanu, Olly Wainwright