The Garden of the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah Saudi Arabia
Landscape Architects: TN PLUS landscape architects [Bruno TANANT & Jean- Christophe NANI; project manager: Andras JAMBOR]
Client: General Authority of Civil Aviation [GACA]
Cost of work: 140 M $
Surface: 8 ha
The garden of the new terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport, the new major international hub of the Middle East serving Makkah, will rise as a sub- tropical microcosmos in the middle of the extremely dry desert.
In order to relate the garden to the big landscapes of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia we decided to create a garden with a topography, which recalls that of the never-ending sand dunes. The project creates the illusion of a garden grown out of a dune, which was there long time before the arrival of the new terminal. Sand dunes are one of the major components of the landscapes of the Kingdom so the choice of a dune shaped topography has a strong symbolical message. The organic shapes of the surface of the center garden will continue outside of the terminal building at the entrance area to assure continuity and coherency. The plinth of the garden will appear as if it would be a monolithic sandstone sculpted by the force of the wind, as if the ever moving sand dune would all of a sudden petrify to become support for a lush green subtropical vegetation.
The organic and vegetal aspect of the surface will hold an architectural dialog with the high tech aspect off the walls. The idea is to create a duality ‘recto’ [vegetal, organic, natural] ‘verso’ [architecture, high-tech, artificial] with the down side [verso] folding up punctually over the up side [recto] like sheets of origami papers.
In almost every desert of the Earth, sand dunes follow the similar formation scheme. The pattern of the surface is stridden by sigmoid curves. This organic drawing appears as the moving sand curls on itself.
Abstraction of organic forms into simple geometrical patterns, are one of the methods Islamic arts have used for centuries to represent nature.
The topography of the garden of the new terminal of KAIA will be inspired from the silhouette of an imaginary sand dune but its surface will be covered with a carpet of lush green vegetation. To reinforce the identity of the garden its surface will be covered with a sigmoid grid formed by diamond shaped concrete elements.
Even though there’s plenty of grey water for the irrigation the creation of a garden on the extremely dry climate of Jeddah remains delicate. The new garden will propose a lush green sub-tropical aspect but will only host species with relatively low water consumption. All the plants will arrive from Saudi Arabia or from dry regions where the weather conditions are similar to Jeddah.
One of the major components of the higher layer of the tree crowns will be the date palm, an inseparable symbol of the landscapes of Saudi Arabia. Just one of the many species that can withstand the long dry seasons. While, some of the plants incorporated in the design will come from the dry Mediterranean region. The vegetal pallet was composed following two principals; on the one hand, all species must be able to handle the climatic conditions of Jeddah with a small but regularly disposed amount of water.
On the other hand the garden will be the focal point of the composition of the new terminal that thousands of visitors will observe, while they are passing or waiting in the hall of the terminal. Many international travelers will simply change flight in the terminal so the only image they will conserve from the city of Jeddah will be the terminal building with its garden in the center. That is why it is crucial to give a seductive and precious image to the travelers and the pilgrims.