Mayasem Saudi Swiss School Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Modern Architecture Rooted in Place and Tradition

Introduction: This project started as the Saudi Swiss School, and the design featured here was one of several that we developed. In the early stages of this process, we developed schemes that were closer to the traditional side of the spectrum. We got our inspiration for our early schemes from exceptional modern buildings that do not stray too far from the tenets of Islamic Architecture, such as the Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman. Over the course of many iterations, the client decided to move closer to a style that represented a fusion of rich Islamic architectural principles with innovations in design, materials and technology.

Design Principles: Four key design principles emerged during our work with the school’s stakeholders:

  1. Honor Location and Culture: Create a strong sense of belonging and identity by connecting with familiar but timeless architectural elements
  2. Respond to Climate: Such as in the way daylight becomes an asset and not a liability, and locally sourced materials are used in new and innovative ways.
  3. Create a Sense of Place: So that “space” becomes a “place” of meaning and connection for occupants and visitors.
  4. Celebrate Craft and Innovation: Incorporate local craftsmanship whose origins go back centuries in new and innovative ways.
  5. Create a Place for Personal Growth and Community Spirit: Ensure that every student has opportunities to bring out the best in themselves and connect with local community in meaningful ways.