Fit For A King

Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the first prime minister of the UAE once said: “My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel.”

Oil will run out. This is a given. And while the Middle East is reaping the benefits right now, they are fastidious about long-term sustainability and how to thrive and survive beyond the era of fossil fuel.

The King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is a non-profit global institution dedicated to independent research into energy economics, policy and technology – across all forms of energy.

Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, based in London, it’s only fitting the structure is an embodiment of sustainability, attaining a LEED platinum sustainability certification. The almost alien-like structure is kitted out with rooftop panels that can store a more than respectable 5000 megawatts per year, and water is continually recycled and reused.

With an average temperature of 36°C in July – Saudi’s hottest month – the honeycombesque pods have been created to lessen the effect of Riyadh’s intense light and heat. Stepping outside to take a breather is also no sweat: KAPSRC is carefully crafted to let the desert breeze flow through the pods and into the main courtyard. Underground passages also connect different buildings in the complex, allowing researchers to keep cool, and to connect with their inner meerkat.