Prince Saud Al-Faisal Institute of Diplomatic Studies

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

This ambitious project has seen The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia expand to create a new building for Prince Saud Al-Faisal Institute For Diplomatic Studies (IDS) and Consular Affairs Department (CAD).

The building features a large auditorium, library, lecture halls and other educational spaces, prayer rooms and a cafeteria, as well as a CAD visa application hall. Buro Happold was appointed to develop the design for the new government building in Riyadh, advising on all aspects of the process.


We needed to devise facade design solutions for the elaborate limestone building envelope, which features an unusual pattern of rhomboid windows and openings. Our team also needed to consider orientation for buildings in the Middle East in order to reduce the effects of solar gain on the internal environment and maximise the use of solar gain. We carried out daylight analysis to understand and the impact of the sun on the facade, carrying out modelling to define optimal building location.

Our team also had to devise energy efficient MEP systems for the development, designing strategies that offer a modern working environment that offers the latest in smart technology. We also needed to carefully consider energy efficiency within the spaces.

A further challenge for our team was the need to relocate the services plant from the roof part way through the project, as requested by the client.

The building features a large auditorium, library, lecture halls and other educational spaces, prayer rooms and a cafeteria, as well as a CAD visa application hall. Image: Buro Happold


The unique cut outs featured in the facade not only serve as a distinctive feature but also improve the thermal efficiency of the building, allowing natural light to permeate the atrium while also ensuring adequate shade. Designed to resemble a veil, the facade’s form allows passers by glimpses of the activity inside the building.

Our studies into the building orientation allowed us to maximize natural lighting and to balance heat gain and loss, glare control and variations in daylight availability. The effectiveness of the building’s orientation and facade design has helped to reduce over one third of the total building energy consumption.

The need to relocate the plant led to a complete redesign of our service provision strategy, increasing the basement area to accommodate the plant rooms. Our approach to the design change resulted in the client extending our services to include project management and the supervision of the construction of the new development.

The lighting design in the office spaces is provided via LED down lighters with each lamp being controlled from the lighting control system. Each office benefits from daylight sensors and absence detectors, while scene-setting features are installed in the auditorium and conference rooms.

We enabled energy recovery by specifying a one-source system that links the supply and return air-handling units located in the basement plant. The returned air is dispersed into the car park area where it’s drawn across the space prior to being discharged. This provides a constant air change, prevents the occurrence of carbon monoxide, helps reduce the heat gain and, as a consequence, the overall space temperature.


The unique environment within the Prince Saud Al-Faisal Institute for Diplomatic Studies provides both an intriguing and dynamic space for employees, students and visitors. The internal spaces feature plants and trees to create a natural boundary between the IDS and the CAD, while offering a visual link between the two. With its eye-catching facade and lush internal oasis, this signature structure is a stunning addition to government buildings in Riyadh.

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