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Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Aborted 2005

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The project is located on a 3,200 square-meter site in the center of downtown Riyadh, KSA. It is situated between two of Riyadh’s most celebrated landmarks: the Kingdom Center and the Faisaliah Tower. The plot sits at the foot of the Kingdom Center, a very prime location in the Olaya area.  

Surramanraa is a ladies-only leisure facility meant to offer women a stimulating entertainment and shopping experience, providing them with an exclusive space for social and cultural gatherings. This makes the project unique in its local context, and places it on the Arab World map for its social significance. The location offers a wide variety of retail and service facilities, namely Home Furnishings, Clothing retail and Fashion Accessories, Cosmetics and Beauty Express facility, a Lounge & Café, a News & Music stand, a Business Center, a Children’s center, and more.  

Surramanraa reveals itself to the city as an urban installation. The access to the project is monumentalized by 2 mobile independent elevator-towers, each consisting of a 7 meter high cabin. The iconic structures anchor themselves by piercing through the slab all the way down to the lower level while piloting the visitors into the facility. The main feature of those elevators is the juxtaposition of 2 winged structures on top of the towers in the midst of a bed a roses. Pilots located within the winged structure guide the unsynchronized vertical movement of those elevators, according to the rhythm of the car arrivals to the site as well as the flow of customers leaving the facility from the lower levels. The proposed entrance structure acts as a buffer between the urban context and the introverted space below; the latter is only unraveled once the visitors enter the facility and remove their veils.  

The translucent slab constitutes the project’s façade and the surface of intersection between the city and the interior space. Natural light penetrates the space through the slab. By day, it acts as a veil through which the visitors perceive the overhanging shadow of the city-activity above, while being protected from the gaze of the passers-by. By night, the slab lights up giving the lower space an incandescent glow perceived from its surroundings. The interior mainly consists of a multifunctional “loft-space” surrounded by a permeable skin behind which all the peripheral and supporting activities take place.

The central hall is a flexible platform which can be used as the main retail area; it can also stage events, parties, exhibits, and other cultural and entertainment activities.  

A technical wall occupies the south-eastern edge of the site, separating the land from its neighboring plot. Housed within it are the merchandise drop-off, electro-mechanical facilities, drivers’ area, vertical service-circulation, and the offices pertaining to the male-only area.