Riverwalk is mixed-use commercial development located in the Taawan district of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The 100,000 square foot site is surrounded chiefly by low-rise residential buildings that have recently been built as the city has expanded. It’s meant to have a sense of place that is both local and cosmopolitan, and therefore in sync with the lifestyles of the young population. Two thirds of the population is under thirty years old and are seeking unique experiences and exceptional places to go.
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Urban Design & Architecture Design Awards 2022
Mixed-Use Architecture Built
Cass Calder Smith Architecture + Interiors
Cass Smith, Taylor Lawson, Robert Dimock
Conceptually, it’s an Oasis in the desert surrounded by tents with poles. Actually, it’s a park surrounded by distinctive buildings. It’s also meant to be an iconic and instant landmark that is a balance of public social space and granular commercial uses. As much as its designed to be a unique daytime and evening destination for people with cars, its equally designed for families and individuals from the neighborhood to walk to for frequent enjoyment.
There are three levels of shops. Upper-level terraces and shade structures combine with double-height interiors to engage the public though a wide variety of spaces. There are thirty-five small-scale shops that include a broad range of restaurants, cafes, stores, and services – many of which are start-up establishments The central body of water has three islands. Two of them are irregular shapes with welcoming lawns for families, while the center one has a panoramic elevator that is the ‘Tower’ and also beckons people to ascend to the upper-level shops to enjoy the skyline views. There are six individual buildings primarily organized to aim inward which forms the plaza, but at the same time the shops that face outward have facades and entrances to the streets to further enliven the district. The plaza is open on each end – both as gateways to welcome the neighborhood from opposite directions. There are numerous roofs and overhangs that provide shade and dynamic shadow-play.
The buildings are an off-white smooth plaster for a sculpted appearance and are a variety of geometric shapes with solid walls, voids, columns, and glass. This is meant to add up to a subtle spectacle that is concise, contemporary, and iconic, while also being a contrast to the mostly earth colored rectilinear neighborhood buildings. Overall, it has a civic scale to relate to its urban context, yet up close the buildings brake down into smaller pedestrian-oriented parts.