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Embassy of Saudi Arabia

Embassies function both as national outposts on foreign soil and as open showrooms. Our architectural concept combines these two sides. The resulting building creates a unique place for Saudis, Finns and the rest of the world to meet and challenge our preconceived notions about ourselves and each other. The embassy will become an instrument of both diplomacy and better communication, a place which combines the characteristics of the two cultures.

The chancery and the staff residences will be built in the middle of the Kuusisaari island, and the ambassador’s residence 500 meters away on the island’s northern shore.

The shape of the 3-story-tall embassy building resembles a dune or a section of bedrock, exotic and familiar at the same time. The building is conceived as a piece of modified Kuusisaari landscape: a rock with five courtyards, lush with forest, cut into it. The courtyards open parts of the solid volume to the public. The roof and ¨the walls are clad with grey granite. The perimeter walls defining the courtyards are covered with green wall plantation systems. Walls and gardens are aligned towards Mecca. The staff building consists of eight terraced houses, each with their own entrance at the front and lawn at the back. The building volume is staggered to accentuate the individual apartments in accordance with the area’s building code.

The program for the ambassador’s residence is divided in two. The two-story private villa is placed in the rear of the plot, while the representational spaces form a one-story pavilion by the sea. The descending landscape allows an indoor passageway to be built between the two volumes. Its front opens to the street and functions as the main entrance. Both buildings are clad with light colored stone in order to blend in with the neighborhood. However, the pyramid-shaped roof of the pavilion and the curved outlines of the villa make the residence an architectural entity of its own.

NAME: Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Finland

TYPE: Invited competition, 2012, 2nd prize (chancery)

STATUS: Concluded

LOCATION: Helsinki, Finland

CLIENT: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry for Foreign Affairs

TEAM: ALA partners Juho Grönholm, Antti Nousjoki, Janne Teräsvirta and Samuli Woolston with Auvo Lindroos, Julius Kekoni, Beatriz Zurdo Perlado, Erica Österlund and Vladimir Ilic