From ashes to opportunity
The majestic Tuwaiq Palace has watched over the city of Riyadh since it was built in 1985. BuroHappold Engineering played an intrinsic role in designing this iconic complex, which serves as a hospitality centre for the government to showcase Saudi cultural life to international visitors.
Nearly 25 years after our engineers completed work on the palace, on 12 February 2009, a fire took hold of the beautiful Sports Rose tent resulting in the total destruction of the tent fabric, its internal structures, HVAC systems and interior fit out. The following restoration work would see a new generation of engineers revisit this benchmark of BuroHappold design.
The entire complex is unified by a unique design language, which drives every form, detail, connection and material choice. Because of this, Tuwaiq Palace is internationally renowned for its bold, uncompromising architecture and engineering, so our engineers were aware that protecting the integrity of the original design was of vital importance.
To complicate matters, our client wanted to take the opportunity offered by the necessary refurbishment to modify the Sports Rose Tent and increase its capacity as an events space. A final challenge came in completing all this work within a tight budget.
The BuroHappold team was committed to reusing as much of the original steelwork, fabric hardware and componentry of the Sports Rose Tent as possible, both to preserve the original vision of our founding Partners and to reduce the need for costly replacements to be made.
All of the elements that could be salvaged were carefully dismantled from the fire ravaged tent and their positions tagged and recorded, before being sent off for sandblasting and refinishing.
To ascertain how best to adapt the tent to suit our client’s requirements, our team spent a great deal of time at the outset of this project walking through the building with our client to envisage scenarios for event use and people movement. We then shared these results with the wider design team, collaborating to develop a more flexible event space within the Sports Rose Tent, without compromising its original architecture.
In some instances, the modifications made to increase the tent’s capacity meant that the original pieces we removed from the structure couldn’t be reused in their initial place. Where this was the case, our engineers tried to adapt them for use in a different location, again to reduce the need for expensive new steel fabrications.
The refurbishment also offered our engineers the opportunity to take advantage of the very latest fabric technology resulting in an improved, even more elegant structure. In addition, we equipped the tent with a new and far more efficient HVAC system.
Although it was devastating to lose the original Sports Rose tent to fire, our engineers took the opportunity it presented to create a new and improved event space for our client.
As Tuwaiq Palace moves forward with a new agenda of cultural hospitality events, the new tent provides a beautiful contemporary venue that looks forward without forgetting its past.
Services and approach
When we integrate our specialist teams around an approach, the benefits to the client multiply