About the project
Conrad Gargett has won an international competition to design the Misk Foundation Headquarters in Saudi Arabia, which is set to become an iconic centrepiece for the world’s first non-profit city.
The Misk Foundation Centre will be located in the heart of the Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Nonprofit City within the capital of Riyadh. The Foundation’s focus is on empowering youth in education, entrepreneurship, art, and culture.
The new city was launched in November 2021 by His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Misk Foundation, with a vision to create a modern, vibrant and environmentally sustainable community that supports innovation and entrepreneurship while nurturing future leaders.
At the heart of the city is the Misk Foundation Centre, sited on a peninsula formed by deep ravines or “wadi”. The distinctive ternary form orientates to Wadi Hanifa as well as the capital of Riyadh and includes approximately 6000sqm of office accommodation wrapping around a central garden and a publicly accessible active ground floor level with café, function room and exhibition space.
An expansive gathering space surrounded by the lush Forum Garden is protected and shaded by an over scaled ‘mashrabiya’ – a horizontal interpretation of the traditional Arabic timber screening device, providing a comfortable place to meet and exchange ideas.
The Foundation Headquarters’ office accommodation wraps to enclose, protect and engage with the Forum Garden; its transparent internal courtyard façade facilitating the interaction of staff. This contrasts with the exterior of the building, where a protective sculptured enclosing wall references traditional Najd architecture and celebrates the sun’s strength through the ever-changing play of light and shade on its tessellated surface.
The narrow floor plates of the office accommodation inside are linked through generous voids which bring light through the building, and enable spectacular views of the wadis and the ever-expanding urban fabric of the city.
Aligned with the high aiming sustainability aspirations of the new city, the Foundation Headquarters will seek to achieve GBCI LEED Gold certification with water conscious design, best air quality and connection to nature and will be capable of carbon-neutral operations.
The garden court supports the Riyadh Green initiative, which reflects the vision of the leadership to increase the per capita share of green space that will add to the wellbeing of the residents, as part of the Quality of Life (QoL) program under Saudi Vision 2030. With millennial and Gen Z professionals seeking a healthy work environment, the focus on setting the highest standards in environmental care and healthy work environments will help attract more talent by delivering a happier, serene and healthier workplace. The building will also be seeking an IWBI WELL Gold rating which recognises spaces that enhance human health and wellbeing.
The design of the building celebrates genius loci, or spirit of place, and pays respect to the Salmaniah architectural style through its strong response to urban planning, choice of materials and the provision of high-quality open space. Using local stone, non-reflective metal panels, and carbon sequestering hardwoods, the Foundation Headquarters will feature a range of healthy and comfortable environments.