BIOPHILIA ESSAYS: KAFD PARCEL 4.11
KAFD Parcel 4.11
The proposed façade of the building on Parcel 4.11 of the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is dramatically blanketed by a display of linear lights, which from a distance cohere into a single image. Considering the potential of the eight-storey feature, AWA proposed a number of possible alternatives to the status-quo, text-based functionality of typical billboards. The firm’s ideas included a “phases of the moon” project that would show visualization of Earth’s satellite, waxing and waning with the lunar cycle even while gradually moving across the face of the wall laterally. This realism of both cyclicality and side-to-side motion was motivated by, and sought to activate, the biophilic appeal of the moon as a source of light, security, and regularity for flora and fauna throughout human evolution. Extending the potential for biophilic imagery, AWA also proposed a creative design option displaying the “flight of the falcon,” a locally revered bird moving realistically across the face of the building.
A second aspect of the project afforded an opportunity for biophilic design: that of a 6-meter diameter custom light fixture to become the focal point of the building’s lobby space. AWA decided to create a moon chandelier, a 3-dimensional spherical matrix of spherical LED lights, again animated with the changing phases of the moon. In practice the fixture would at different times be darkened or illuminated in sections, with careful attention to the neatness (i.e. the lack of bleeding light) at the boundary between bright and dark. A series of diagrams for the custom fixture design can be seen below.
“Biophilic design” can refer to several trends in modern “green” design, but in most uses it indicates a design principle that goes beyond merely minimizing the impact of the built environment to create actual close contact between users and the “natural” world. By inviting nature into the design, whether through biomimicry, green curtain walls, extensive natural lighting (or simulations thereof), multi-species accessibility, or the like, a design reengages occupants with the environmental elements that may be inherently intertwined with our phylogenetic predispositions.