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Team "Müll": Anton Burdein, Felix Mühlbauer, Pascal Luthardt, Theresa Wunder

According to extensive geological Studies, the Landscape surrounding Riyadh consists of flood tidal deltas between the ever retreating Ocean and the Lagoons of the past. This project concentrates on the creation of artificial inhabited Lagoons in the surrounding deserts of Riyadh. It successfully combines traditional desert Architecture and its passive cooling techniques with modern technology.

The Concept

The new Lagoons are formed with multiple intersected spheres, half buried in the ground and partly filled with water. The Larger Spheres are pierced with so called “Energy-Pins” which are used to gather Wind Energy and are simultaneously used for passive Ventilation referencing the Persian wind towers. One continuous Floor-mesh stretches inside the spheres to connect different areas and offer astonishing community spaces (living rooms, kitchens, bars, dining rooms, majlis etc.) for the dwellers. This way a sort of hybrid outside-interior space is created, which protects the dwellers from the harsh desert environment but at the same time remains partly open. 

Contemporary regional courtyard villa

As the study of a Tunis Medina house suggests the smaller private rooms are connected to a large communal courtyard. This courtyard serves as a sustainable microclimate modifier protecting the users form the hot and dry environment, winds, sand storms etc. The New Lagoon Villas reinvent the traditional courtyard house of Iran or Tunis in a new circular layout.


The spherical domed Structures can be built with a traditional water-resistant mortar (Sarooj) used for generations to build such desert structures as Yakhchāl (Iranian Ice houses). In some cases the reinforcement will have to be used to create larger openings or to bridge larger spans. The Floor-meshes are envisioned as translucent glass-resin over voronoi-distributed wire-mesh tension-spanned between the Sphere-walls and Energy-pins.


The bottom Pools of the main Courtyard-Spheres humidify and cool the interiors and can also be used to create beautiful marine life aquariums for swimming and diving. Being buried in the ground and surrounded by a thick Wall-layer (apr. 2 m) as in the traditional Yakhchāl a constant water temperature can be maintained at any time of the day or year. The folding wind turbines harvest renewable energy, helping the building to achieve the energy-plus rating.

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