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Giant botanical garden in Riyadh- a gift to King Abdullah.

The design of a giant botanical garden commissioned by Riyadh as a gift to King Abdullah to celebrate his accession to the throne, has won top honors at International Property Awards and would be soon put out to tender to contractors.

King Abdullah International Gardens (KAIG) has been designed by leading British architecture and planning consultancy Barton Willmore and international multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy Buro Happold.

The duo won an international competition in 2007 to design the project.

Now, having completed the design with advisors from the UK's National History Museum and Eden Project, KAIG is to be put out to project tender.

KAIG's design, which won the overall global leisure category for commercial property at the International Property Awards, features a 10-hectare building which will house the world's largest indoor garden -- the size of 15 football pitches or five Eden Projects.

KAIG will be set within a 160 hectare site in the arid desert of the Saudi central region and, as a cornerstone of Riyadh's growth plans, will provide a new destination for Saudis and international visitors.

Visitors will be able to walk amongst plants, trees and flowers which lived over 400 million years ago, as well as a range of external gardens which will include a maze, butterfly enclosure and aviary.

Starting in the Devonian period, when plants remained at knee height, visitors will travel through the Carboniferous, Jurassic, Cretaceous and Cenozoic gardens before reaching the riverbeds and light woodland of the Pliocene period. Finally, they will enter the 'Garden of Choices' where they will be presented with scenarios related to climate change and the choices we now need to make.

The project's centerpiece will be a 'paleo-botanic' building formed by two adjoining crescents that will rise 40m in height.

The building's roof, which will be the largest 'ETFE' covered structure in the world, will span up to 90m. KAIG will also feature an array of specialist tensile, pneumatic and grid shell structures -- all designed by the world's leading specialist engineers using state-of-the art modeling tools.

The garden will also showcase sustainable development and incorporate renewable and low energy technologies.

It will employ thermal ice storage and black and grey water recycling systems, with underground reservoirs for storage and, with the outside temperature reaching up to 50AC, this approach will be vital to the control of the different historical climates inside the various gardens.

The British team is also responsible for the design of KAIG's infrastructure including earthworks, roads, footpaths, coach and car parks, an energy center, sewerage treatment systems and services (including electricity, telecoms, gas and water).

Nick Sweet, project director and partner in charge of Urban Design at Barton Willmore's London office said, "The achievement in pulling together the KAIG designs is the result of a monumental joint effort.

Collaboration has been key in order to integrate all disciplines and services to ensure we stayed true to our original design concept.' "KAIG is just one example of where we are working closely with a partner to create a new type of sustainable community.

Indeed, this project epitomizes our desire to marry manmade structures with the natural environment and produce a broader narrative about their complex interrelationships over time," he noted. Jerry Young, Project principal and partner at Buro Happold, said: "While we have extensive experience in the design and construction of cuttingedge projects in the Middle East, the design of KAIG has been extremely challenging because nothing as complex has been built on this scale and in this kind of environment before.' "There has been almost zero repetition during the design process and the end result has been achieved through a truly multi-disciplinary, collaborative and innovative approach," he added.

Barton Willmore provided masterplanning, architecture and landscape design services and Buro Happold provided project management services and structural, building services and infrastructure engineering design, as well as a range of specialist consultancy services.

Saudi Economic Survey. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:King Abdullah International Gardens
Publication:Saudi Economic Survey
Geographic Code:7SAUD
Date:Dec 7, 2009
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