Atturaif reaches two million mud blocks

Atturaif mud blocks

20/09/2013 Written by: Sean O'Sullivan

After two years in production we are delighted to confirm that contractor Freyssinet Saudi Arabia has passed the 2,000,000 Adobe brick milestone on the Atturaif UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As part of the UNESCO conditions of accreditation for the 400 year old buildings, historical materials (clay, sand, straw and water) and methods (30 day fermentation process and a seven day drying process) must be used to achieve authentic rebuilt structures on the site.

Mud blocks are being used for the many dozens of structures that are being restored/rebuilt using traditional construction techniques and manual labour, with almost no modern equipment.

Mud block compressive strengths averages at 7n/mm² after 30 days which exceed those found in many masonry blocks. No cement or aggregate is added to the mud blocks; the strength can be attributed just to the natural chemical reaction between the clay, straw and water.

Also to comply with the UNESCO accreditation requirements, locally sourced materials must be used in all possible instances. Consequently in excess of 35,000 Athel wood trees have been cut for roof joists, doors, windows, lintels and structural strengthening works. This adds to the uniqueness of Atturaif in a worldwide context.

BuroHappold’s undertaking to restore an entire historical city of over 58 acres in one project, as well as constructing 14 new museums, is a significant logistical and organisation achievement. There are also in excess of 20 outdoor multimedia shows around the site showing the history of the Saud family and the war/military history of the Arabian Gulf and the traditional architecture of this part of the world.

BuroHappold is providing project management, construction management, contract administration, planning, ICT network, civil, structural, mechanical and electrical engineering services for the client: the Arriyadh Development Authority.

Key Project Statistics

  • Project area 58 acres
  • 2,500,000 handmade mud bricks
  • 35,000 Athel wood trees will be used for roofs and doors/windows
  • 40,000m3 of Riyadh limestone has been excavated for foundation repairs and paving
  • 15,000m3 of adobe materials will be used to complete the reconstruction
  • 150,000m2 of new adobe plaster will be applied by hand
  • Over 1,000 workers on site from 15 different countries and five different continents
  • Completion date :late 2014
  • Project budget: Saudi Riyals 1bn (Euro 200m)

To record this occasion, BuroHappold has made a short documentary film of the work they have undertaken to date and what remains to be completed. The film also shows the scale and complexity of this amazing project.

Atturaif - Living Museum from BuroHappold on Vimeo.

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