King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre

Research Center's Environmental Ethos Guide Interiors' Materiality and Functionality

In collaboration with Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA), the Woods Bagot-designed interiors for the 70,000-square-meter research center complement the pristine exterior finishes while following the repeated hexagonal shapes chosen for efficiency and connectivity. Because the building is for a non-profit institution focused on independent research of environmental policies and energy use, a portion of the products were sustainably sourced and engineered to uphold the organization’s environmental agenda. The overall form was inspired by the shapes found in a butterfly’s wing and reflects the environmentally conscious ethos throughout the design.

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Due to the dynamism of the inside spaces, extensive and varied materials communicate the individual programs in each area to users. Different features such as flooring, undulating ceiling planes, acoustic requirements, lighting, and furniture determined the types of material—both for aesthetic cohesiveness and specific identities. The base palette consists of terrazzo and stone flooring, white finished dry-lining and glass fiber reinforced concrete, metal ceiling tiles, both clear and white glass, acrylic surfaces, and stainless-steel trims. The solution entailed altered arrangements using the same finishes and black-and-white hues.

Ten percent of the overall building materials were locally extracted, harvested, and manufactured within a 500-mile radius of the site. The designers also utilized low emitting goods to reduce the number of indoor air contaminants, such as carpet systems, composite woods, adhesives and sealants, and paints and coatings. In some of the larger areas of the interiors, recycled rather than newly manufactured materials were utilized. Additionally, all wood was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which oversees responsibly-managed forests.

From its design inspiration to its technical execution, the building astutely conveys its parent organization’s mission, thus helping it to achieve LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Photography by Hufton + Crow


King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre




Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Completion Date



70,000 square meters