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Saudi roots celebrated in spectacular fashion with 300-ton tent-like dome

With projects like the Line and Mukaab, it feels like everything in Saudi Arabia is larger than life lately. It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise then that when the country’s first state dinner was held to commemorate its founding, it was carried out in due pomp in a massive tent-like dome structure weighing over 300 tons that was created specifically for the occasion.

The project, named Bedayat (or Beginning/Inception), was constructed on a 6,000sq-m (roughly 645,000-sq-ft) helipad in Diriyah, Riyadh. It hosted 1,500 guests on February 21, combining mixed live dances, original storytelling, and performances, with complex lighting from over 1,000 LEDs and 36 projectors providing a 360-degree synchronized visual experience depicting vibrant scenes celebrating the origins and future of the Saudi Kingdom on the ceiling.

The structure itself comprised a steel and textile framework that mirrored the floor plan, with four arches and a central elliptical ring 11 m (36 ft) above the stage area. Weaved PVC fabric was used to cover it all. The construction process was a definite challenge and it took a team of builders 13 days to complete, working while a Formula E race was taking place nearby.

“The 156-ton central ring was first raised by 14 cranes and kept in midair while the base’s concrete was drying,” explained Designlab Experience. “The arches were built from top to bottom, and rather than be bolted down, they were inserted in round-shaped steel holders that would move with the wind to stabilize the structure. The team executed the balancing act to position the ring perfectly and set arches into the bases without computerized support.”

Bedayat weighed over 300 tons, while its central ring alone weighed 156 tons

Roberto Conte

Bedayat was commissioned by the Saudi Ministry of Sport to celebrate the foundation of the First Saudi State on February 22, 1727 (the modern country of Saudi Arabia wasn’t actually founded until hundreds of years later, in 1932). Since it was created for just one evening, the whole thing was then slated for dismantling, with Designlab confirming that the “materials are stored and repurposed as much as possible for future projects.”

Source: Designlab Experience

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