a sea of palm trees
sakaka, al jouf region, saudi arabia

A Sea of Palm Trees, First Place Winner of the Al Jouf Public Library Design Competition

nabil gholam architects won the Dar Al-Uloum (DAUI) public library competition, one of the first large-scale global architectural competitions to be launched from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

The competition program is the redevelopment of the existing Dar Al-Uloum Public Library and surrounding campus located in Sakaka, Al Jouf Region in Saudi Arabia.

The project, “A Sea of Palm Trees”, is a unique, energy-efficient, cohesive design, playing on the paradox of past and future. The rationale behind the structure was to carefully construct a forward-looking design that pays homage to and preserves the library’s rich roots and history, bridging together the elements of knowledge, sustainability, culture, technology and the future of libraries. The proposal includes adaptive urban pavilions on the campus, which could be plugged in various places of the city as well, creating a cultural network connected to the library. These passively cooled public spaces are accessible to everyone and promotes cultural activities in the city. 

The natural canopy achieved by the Palm Grove harmoniously ties the site together while offering shade and unique perspectives from every viewpoint. The innovative “smart skin” works as a double envelope for the library and creates an outdoor, climate controlled public space. The urban pavilions have a natural self-cooling system and the overall design offers a protective yet porous enclosure that gives a new, iconic face to the library and surrounding campus, creating a focal point for Sakaka. Beneath all the intricacies, the library and its surroundings provide a simple, quiet and serene haven in which to stroll, reflect, think and study.


Architecture: nabil gholam architects
3D images:nabil gholam architects