Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Saudi Arabia

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (also known as Ithra) is a bold new initiative on the part of the Saudi Aramco Oil Company to promote cultural development within Saudi Arabia. Following an invited architectural design competition in 2007, Snøhetta was selected to design this new prestigious cultural facility. The design for the Saudi Aramco Cultural Center embraces both past and future, captured in the present. The building covers 100,000 square meters with its shape being inspired by the internal structural shape of oil-bearing rock formations.









The levels of the building are arranged thematically and intended to suggest a progression through the ages. Areas dealing with history and the past are at the lowest levels, beneath ground level and the ground floor dealing with the present. The higher levels are mainly situated in the structure known as the Knowledge Tower; with the intention being that the knowledge communicated in the tower’s teaching rooms will equip citizens for the future.









The project contains diverse cultural facilities, including an auditorium, cinema, library, exhibition hall, museum and archive. The auditorium will seat 930 visitors and will provide for a wide range of events ranging from opera, symphony concerts, musicals and lectures etc. The great exhibition hall will accommodate large scale travelling exhibitions, as well as providing the setting for social events, banquets and conferences. The museum and archive facilities connect the vibrant cultural life of the center to the past and to the very roots of the society from which this center is conceived. The Center has been listed in Time magazine as one of the world’s top 100 places to visit and attracted one million visitors in 2019.










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