The culmination of the cooperative efforts of Frei Otto, Omrania and Associates and Buro Happold, Tuwaiq Palace is an unassuming engineering masterpiece that transcends the vernacular architecture and sets the benchmark for what the contemporary local architecture should strive to be.
The deserving recipient of the 1998 Aga Khan Award for Architecture, Tuwaiq palace, which is a a reception hall and recreation center exceeds both functions. It is a built ambassador of the region, fittingly situated in the diplomatic quarter of Al-Riyadh.
The juxtaposition between the fortress like nature of the main structure and the airy tents is seamless and feels like an indisputable decision by the architects.
The tents and the small cutout windows are able to emphasize the magnitude of the fortifies enclosure while also bringing out an uncharacteristic lightness to the construction. The colorful stained glass tent is the jewel of complex, a stillness in the already serene. The cohesion of spaces make Tuwaiq palace an inevitable existence in its context.
In a time where the role of the architect is question, and the discipline in peril, architecture as Tuwaiq Palace should be heralded as the answer to the questioning of what is it that architects do.