Diriyah Gate Master Plan | At Turaif, Saudi Arabia | Atkins

Diriyah Gate Master Plan
Diriyah Gate Master Plan
Diriyah Gate Master Plan

The Diriyah Gate master plan has been conceived around the UNESCO World Heritage site of At Turaif, which represents the original capital of the modern Saudi Kingdom. It is one of the first major settlements and the birthplace of the ruling Saud family. Taking inspiration from the context of At Turaif, the project aims to create a unique district that preserves heritage, emulates traditional urban form and conserves the natural environment while enhancing it for managed use.

Diriyah Gate Master Plan
Diriyah Gate Master Plan

The objective for Diriyah Gate Development is to create an urban mixed-use development comprising live, work and play spaces creating a new image for Riyadh living. The development is located to the west of Riyadh along the Wadi Hanifah corridor, which is a natural basin that runs north-south to the west of the city.

Diriyah Gate Master Plan
Diriyah Gate Master Plan

Culture & Heritage Focused

  • Heritage features have been retained and incorporated within the master plan, including buildings, walls, turrets, gate structures, camel routes and date palms.
  • Master plan layout developed by UNESCO view cones, development proximity and other requirements.
  • Specific plot development regulations to ensure UNESCO buffer guidelines of heights, view cones are adhered to during asset design.
  • Western district developed with focus on cultural assets located in two nodes at the ends and distributed along the north south pedestrian spine.
  • A selected list of 100 stories dedicated to Diriyah has been incorporated across the site in various forms ranging from physical assets, activities, performances, sculptures, wayfinding, trails and place names as experience creators.
  • Eastern district developed with key assets, including Arena, Opera House, Convention Centre, Museum of Contemporary Art, Grand Mosque and Innovation Cluster along a grand boulevard that connects into King Saud University to the east of the site.
  • The pedestrian spine and boulevard integrate at the central urban deck and adjacent lifestyle retail district as the heart of the development.
  • Wadi Hanifah wraps the site on the south and west and has been integrated as a key natural heritage for the site with connections to the city.
Diriyah Gate Master Plan
Diriyah Gate Master Plan
Diriyah Gate Master Plan

Interwoven Public Realm

  • The Western district is served by road tunnels with controlled car access at grade through shared surface access routes.
  • While being well provisioned for roads, the development relies on higher public transport modal share in comparison to the rest of the city.
  • Development is planned to be served by four proposed metro stations that have been strategically integrated.
  • The proposed extension of city Bus rapid transit and other city bus routes into the development.
  • Shared and reduced parking strategy to encourage the use of alternative means of access.
  • Provision of a seamless network of pedestrian and cyclist routes within the development and with the surrounding areas to encourage short trips on foot or cycle.
  • Development linked over the highways by proposed public realm-focused urban deck connections at two key locations.
  • An interconnected network of open spaces and exercise routes to enhance well-being.

Diriyah Gate Master Plan

Location: At Turaif, Saudi Arabia

Design Firm: Atkins Middle East – Planning, Landscape and Urban Design Team

Client: Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA)


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Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/