Rehabilitation of Al Turaif District, Historic Diri’ayyah, KSA

At-Turaif is the most historically significant district of Old Dir’iyyah, the capital of the first Saudi Statein the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, north-west of Riyadh. Founded in the 18th century, it bears witness to the Najdi architectural style, which is specific to the centre of the Arabian Peninsula.

A detailed global management plan of the property is being prepared by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) and the designers and the restorers of the Living Heritage Museum, the future management structure of the property. The Saudi government restored and rehabilitated the historic district of Addir’iyyah, northwest of Riyadh transforming it into a cultural touristic area.

The World Heritage Committee of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the historic district of Dir’iyya (northwest of the capital Riyadh) has been included in the World Heritage List at its 34th meeting in Brasilia, Brazil, in recognition of the historical value of this ancient archaeological site and the monuments that the Kingdom has in general.

The objective of the conservation and rehabilitation project is to transform Atturaif district into a cultural and touristic hub on the national level in light of its historical, cultural, urban and environmental characteristics, and to activate the local urban regeneration that has suffered from the lack of active management and strategic planning.

The 58 Acres site was transformed into a living museum including visitor’s reception areas exhibition galleries and market place for traditional Saudi crafts.

The urban core incudes mud brick dwellings which were rehabilitated and reused as Souk (Arabian market) as well as shops demonstrating traditional foods, handicrafts.

General view

View From the east

The Center for conservation of the Islamic Architectural heritage was appointed as part of the working group of international Consulting offices for the rehabilitation and restoration of Historic Buildings. The Development includes the urban planning of the area includes completion of the infrastructure and providing squares and gardens, and the social axis includes the restoration and rehabilitation of historic buildings , the readaptation of 14 buildings as new cultural museums and organizing 20 outdoor multimedia shows.

The development program ensuring the compliance with the ICOMOS Charters including the following:

1- Transforming historic and archeological sites into cultural.

2. Achieving sustainable development in the region.

3. Preserve the urban fabric of the historic area and reuse it to serve the region.

4. Encouraging tourism as an investment field

The development program includes the visual and architectural documentation of the buildings carried out by the Center. The existing conditions of the buildings and the investigation of the existing deterioration were executed through photographic documentation of all the buildings.

The project also included the tests to determine depth, shape and conditions of foundations. Laboratory tests were conducted on selected samples in order to determine the physical, chemical and mechanical properties of building materials (desert loam, tamarisk wood, limestone).

Surface inspection of construction materials was performed using a dermaphot lens that gives a 20- magnification of the mud surface. Facade were treated with wacker water repellent materials and tested after treatment and checked with Karstein tube which shows very good results.

Rehabilitation strategies for the buildings have been prepared according to the new reuse of the buildings, as well as the preparation of the restoration project and the work strategies for each group of buildings.

The buildings chosen for architectural documentation were divided into two types:

The first: Fully restored and rehabilitated buildings that are open for visitors like Imam Saud Mosque and Salwa Palace.

The second: Partially-reconstructed buildings, whose façades were restored to maintain the architectural theme of the district.

The architectural elements after restoration were either used for cultural activities or preserved as monuments in their original shape to be displayed at museums.

The restoration process has four levels determined based on the building overall condition, historic importance and intended use.

The technical specifications and the restoration drawings were prepared along with the specifications and the bill of quantities.

The first phase includes the rehabilitation and preservation of the following sites:

– Sa‘d Palace

– Sa‘d Mosque

– Nāser Palace

– Atturaif Bath & Guest House

– Omar Palace

– Buraika Mosque

– Moudhī Mosque & Subbala

-Master Builder House

The second phase includes:

– Thunayyan Palace

– Treasury House

– Salwa Palace

– Cluster seven, ten and eleven (residential buildings)

– Faisal Towers

– Farmer House

Imam Muhammad Bin Saud and Salwa Palace

Sa’ad Palace

Sa’ad palace Preparing hydraulic lime mortar using sieved wooden ashes

Lamei using Dermaphot investigation

Corner wooden ties

Inserting wooden ties treated against termites

Mixing and installing Mud in mould

Treatment of wall joists before installation

Open air gathering place

Installing wood joists – well seasoned wood- humidity less than 18%

Laying two layers of Jarred

Roof at Thunayan Palace

Roof traditional concrete NHL5

Top of wall that need to be copped with semi-circular

Mud layer mixed with water repellant materials.

District wall.

Wall injection.

Fermented traditional plaster

Salwa Palace, located in the east of Atturaif district. It consists of seven architectural units in addition to the palace of Imam Abdullah bin Saud. The palace has been documented. The Palace is distinguished with details and unique architectural elements. The development program includes the reuse of some of the Salwa Palace buildings as a museum of the history of Saudi Arabia.

The tourists and visitors will walk from reception center through a stone path expressing the original architecture of the palace to Salwa Palace and Addir’iyya Museum or any other destination.

The exterior areas of the ruins of Salwa Palace are used to narrate and highlight the story of the First Saudi State displayed by a 15-minute sound and light show on the walls of the palace.

In addition, five short 5-minute multimedia shows are displayed in a number of locations across the district to narrate the different aspects of the social life during the First Saudi State.

Salwa palace – CIAH drawings

Cracks treatment.

Reconstruction of columns ruins.

Completing deteriorated walls to have structural stability.

Salwa Palace- foundation consolidation and shoring details.

Refill of soil with soil treated against termites

Spraying wooden joist by fire retardant.

Strongly tying the walls together at corner connection.

Light and Sound show on Salwa Palace Facade

Omar Bin Sa’ud Palace (social life museum)

Everyday life patterns, habits, traditions, professions and objects used during the rise of First Saudi State are showcased in this museum.

Palace before restoration

Reconstruction of column.

Repairing door lintel.

Horse Museum : A special horse museum was established to showcase horse-relevant items in the mud buildings north of Qasr Thuniyan Bin Saud.

Horse Museum

Gypsum plaster on column

Horse museum- roof screed using NHL5

War museum – Plaster.

Sprinkling water repellent material ,Silres®BS290, on desert loam plaster.

Bait al Mal and Subalat Moudhi (Museum of treasury)

To highlight the economy and financial system of Addir’iyah, its trade and taxation system are exhibited in this museum lodged in the buildings of Bait al-Ma’al and Subalat Moudhi.

Foundation Consolidation

Muhammad Bin Saud Mosque


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