From the Dar Al-Uloum Initiative website, the Abdulrahman Al Sudairy Cultural Centre (AACC) hosted an international open competition for the redevelopment of the existing Dar Al-Uloum Public Library and surrounding campus located in Sakaka, Al Jouf Region. The call for a redevelopment stemmed from a desire to reinvigorate new life into the library in order to make the Centre once again a meaningful public place to promote learning and community engagement.
Like so many institutions of intellectual and cultural value, such as publishing houses, newspaper companies, and universities, the library finds itself on a precipice at the dawn of a digital era. As digital technology proliferates the means with which people access and share information, libraries no longer attract visitors solely through the accumulation of books. Libraries are expanding their role to increasingly function as community and/or cultural centers. Accordingly, the Dar Al-Uloum Initiative aims to rethink the library’s functions and transform the interior of Dar Al-Uloum from a storage space for books, to a more open and flexible social space. Dar Al-Uloum aspires to become a pit stop for cultural flow and activity, where people can gain access diverse activities such as: lectures, conferences, meetings, reading clubs, art exhibits, workshops, film festivals and work spaces. Read more on the competition background from D.A.U Initiative
From Ghana, an Accra based architecture firm ArchXenus entered the competition last year 2018, with the design team of Nana Akua Birmeh, Agnes Ofosu-Appiah and Desmond Asempapa. The team behind the renderings were Desmond Asempapa and Nathaniel Hammond, whilst all graphics works were handled by Edith Asmah and Frost Studios. The design descriptions from the architects include:
In considering the possible redesign for the library, we took into consideration its potential impact in leading the way for the province of Sakaka’s re-development as a whole, and an opportunity to create a knowledge center that provide a completely new way of experiencing the act of ‘going to the library’ in a time when technology has literally put all knowledge in the palm of one’s hands.
MUZLALA, THE BIG SHADE (CANOPY). Informed by the paramount need to respond directly to the harsh climatic condition prevailing in this location, we designed a structure that would provide an all-day usable outdoor environment to its users by controlling the specific climatic factors within its internal space.
The Square Park:
Set within the canopy, is a large square terraced garden / park, forming a reverse amphitheater with a 360-degree outreach that has its corners spilling out through the 4 openings of the canopy in an indirect invitation to passersby along its immediate surroundings.
The Womb of Knowledge [Circle]:
The summit of the terraced gardens, opens through a large circular courtyard unto a circular landscaped mound in its center as a focal area for the various library zones that are located within the inverse of the terraced park.