Princess Nora bint Addulrahman University for Women

Challenged with creating the largest university for women in the world, the design team took into account climate, security and cultural restraints, transcending style and image while rooted in tradition. The most significant concept is the mandate to completely segregate the female students and staff and shield them from view of any males, in keeping with Saudi tradition which led to the enclosure of the facilities with a series of beautiful latticework partitions, known as mashrabiy’yah. Functioning veils, these partitions strategically screen students setting a culturally relevant aesthetic while reducing energy consumption significantly. The partitions and screens become more or less dense as the women gradually remove their veils as they move deeper into the interior and are permitted to freely express themselves in the sanctuary-like core spaces. The veil concept of the building was carried through in floor designs, casting shadows on hard surface areas as light patterns change throughout the day. The textures of Silk collection carpet patterns reflect the time honored legacy of ancient textiles and textures of the local environment. This 32 million sf project brings a learning environment that is an environmentally and economically sustainable model for higher education throughout the region.


Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Design Firm



  • Higher Education
  • Collection


    Products Used

    man made stria tile


    2014 Design Award Category Winner