Complex Collaboration

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Do you remember what you were doing in 1988? Thanks to the extensive archives here at Nexus Designs we can share with you what we were up to. The seat of government in Saudi Arabia had recently changed from Jeddah to Riyadh and a new diplomatic quarter was established adjacent to the city to house diplomatic missions, their staff and families. In collaboration with architects Daryl Jackson Meldrum Burrows, landscape architects Tract Consultants and others, Nexus Designs was appointed Interior Design consultants to the exciting new complex.

On the edge of the desert by the Wadi Hanifah, Riyadh is situated on the central plateau of Saudi Arabia. The Chancery complex concept responded to the harsh and varied climatic conditions including hot dry summers, mild winters, low rainfall and severe sandstorms. The new Australian Chancery Complex included, a Chancery, Head of Mission Residence, Ambassadors Suite, Servant’s Quarters, Recreational Facilities and 11 Staff Residences.

Collaborating with the architects on selection of internal floor and wall finishes – granite, Australian timbers and wool carpets – the emphasis was on Australian made products with some locally sourced materials. Furniture for all areas of the complex was selected from Australian manufacturers with consideration given to Australian timbers, colours and fabrics. The cool surfaces and neutral interior colour palettes were combined to create a welcoming oasis from the harsh reality of the Arabian desert.

Artworks selected by Janne Faulkner and Daryl Jackson included a large John Davis installation in the main atrium space; this stick-like floating ‘aboriginal’ inspired sculpture added mystery and delight and sculptural elements by Maggie May around an ornamental courtyard pool. The interior mood was one of serious diplomatic hospitality, respecting the Arabian culture in its form yet, unmistakably Australian in colour, finish and ambience.

Photography: John Gollings

Awards

Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) International Award 1991 – Winner, Residential
Australian Chancery Complex Riyadh (in collaboration with Daryl Jackson & Meldrum Burrows)

Published in Architecture Australia March 1990 & Constructional Review February 1990