Souk Okaz Public Theatre
Location: Taif, Saudi Arabia
Completion Date: October 2012
Size: 10,700 sqm
Fabric: PVC - Hiraoka 312T-IJ
Perfectly integrated in both design and engineering, the 10,000 square metre printed PVC canopy on the Souk Okaz Public Theatre crowns the 3000 seat public auditorium, helping to deliver both a functional public space for cultural activities and an evocative design reminiscent of an ancient bustling Bedouin market place.
The Souk Okaz was an historically famous bazaar on the Arabian Peninsula dating back to 5th and 6th century, as place where people gathered to hear poets and philosophers exchange ideas and challenge each other with poems.
Located in Taif City in modern-day Saudi Arabia, the extremes of the desert location proposed for this structure shaped the client’s requests. The Souk Okaz Public Theatre roof design needed to be both water tight, and constructed with a material that would protect from and withstand both the extremely high UV environment and an abrasive sandstorm prone area.
The client’s ambition for this imposing public space required an extremely large internal clear span area measuring approximately 60m x 65m with a minimum under canopy clearance of 12m, full integration of the structure with the main seating, stage and tower constructions and an embodiment of traditional Arabic design.
The artistic element of this project is its greatest achievement. The unique shapes and textures depicted on the Souk Okaz Public Theatre roof membrane are uniquely Arabic; this is of the highest importance to the client and the end users. Our designers took great care in creating this aesthetic as it makes up the character of the project.
The membrane is PVC-coated polyester fabric, printed with geometric shapes and patterns inspired by traditional Arabic mosaic art. These patterns enhance the natural appearance of the structure helping it to blend into the surrounding landscape and architecture.
With a structure this size careful consideration was needed designing the membrane seems and installation methodology, allowing for adjustment at connections to ensure that any fabrication and construction inaccuracies could be easily dealt with on site.
A collaborative Taiyo Kogyo Corporation project brought together the design and engineering excellence from MakMax Australia, large-scale specialist fabrication from Shanghai Taiyo Kogyo and project management and local installation knowledge by Taiyo Middle East.
Souk Okaz Public Theatre opened to great reviews in both the local and national press in Saudi Arabia. Its aims of fitting in to the surrounds and serving as a cultural landmark appear to have been achieved based on the widespread national coverage and reporting of the structure.
The Souk Okaz Public Theatre project won two Awards For Excellence for MakMax Australia in the 2013; one for the Specialised Textiles Association Awards and one for the IFAI International Achievement Awards. A follow-up story about the project was written by the IFAI – read more here.