King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST)

Riyadh, the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia, is patron to research and development in various fields. King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) in Riyadh is regarded as the leading national scientific and technologic facility with international reputation and flagship status in the Kingdom. In 2011 it boasted over 3,000 employees promoting and developing the advancement of science, technology and innovation. The KACST directorate decided to expand its existing facilities to create a world-class research organisation with multiple facilities for more than 10,000 employees demonstrating excellence in functionality and design of buildings and their environment. The area of the project site was about 90 hectares and was located in the north-western Riyadh metropolitan area near the King Sa’ud University with strategic views of downtown Riyadh including of the Kingdom Tower and AI-Faisaliah Tower.

Biodiversity by Design was appointed by renowned sustainable engineering practice, Battle McCarthy, to support their role as landscape architect, civil and structural engineer and environmental advisor to LAVAnation (architect and lead consultant) to contribute to the development of a spatial framework plan and design of landscape infrastructure for the new research facilities. We contributed to the articulation of the design team’s proposals on species and mechanisms for enrichment of natural wadi landscapes and also hydroponic food production and suggestions for algal farm design.

We also helped in the development of a seasonally responsive landscape design strategy that included e.g. switching between summer and winter modes. In ‘summer’ mode hydroponically grown vegetation was to be grown in environmentally controlled spaces such as within the atria, basement car park, pedestrian routes, sunken gardens, and along boulevards. In the ‘winter’ mode the masterplan allowed for the relocation of vegetation out into the external courtyards, shaded streets and boulevards to provide shading and evaporative cooling along with evaporative paving slabs.

Proximate Client
Battle McCarthy

Design Team Leader


Landscape Architect
Battle McCarthy

Site Area
25-100 Hectares