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CDC Abdelhalim designs King Salman University in S...

CDC Abdelhalim designs King Salman University in Sinai

CDC-Abdelhalim-designs-King-Salman-UniversityCDC-Abdelhalim-designs-King-Salman-University

In a centralized country like Egypt, the news of opening a new university in Sinai comes as a surprise. King Salman University in Sinai consists of three branches, not only are they located away from Cairo but also the three branches are located away from each other. The first branch is located in Ras Sedr, second in ElTour and the third in Sharm El Sheikh. The famous CDC Abdelhalim architecture office, that previously took part in designing the AUC Campus in New Cairo was chosen to design King Salman University.

Currently, the project is nearly complete and will be opening soon. Let’s get to know from CDC more about the campus strategic location, architecture design and the challenges of designing and building such a complex project.

The Story behind choosing Sinai as the university location

It started off as a strategic move from the government to develop South Sinai politically, economically and socially. Building a mammoth campus with three branches in South Sinai will reposition the peninsula as an important destination both locally and internationally. It will surely bring a lot of investors and developers once it operates. The ministry of higher education wanted to follow AUC new campus as a model for turning a nearly deserted area into a fully functioning community.

Ras Sedr, ElTour and Sharm El Sheikh are strategic cities; unfortunately, they have been neglected for a very long time. The area has a great potential to turn into a fully functioning municipal that hopefully can decrease the burden off of Cairo and Alexandria.

King Salman University branches in Sinai
King Salman University branches in Sinai

King Salman University capacity

Based on thorough studies of the future of the peninsula, the campuses were designed to accommodate a maximum of 7,000 students and faculty members. However, the possibility of future expansion was taken into consideration and the whole campus capacity can reach a maximum of 20,000 students.

The three campuses schools

The seven major schools were divided according to the socio-economic nature of each city. For example, the Schools of Agriculture and Business were located in Ras Sedr as the city is well known for its stretch of olive, tamarinds and fruit farms. On the other hand, Sharm El Sheikh Campus had to have Schools of Tourism and Alsun as the city is renowned for its once-booming tourism industry and also the need to revive it. Lastly, ElTour Campus encompasses the biggest schools; Engineering, Science and Industry as it is planned to be the central campus.

ElTour Campus

ElTour Campus master plan designed by CDC Abdelhalim
ElTour Campus master plan

The main vision of the master plan was to create linking spaces to the surrounding community and to create a micro-community within each campus. Looking at Al Tur Campus, it was divided into three main platforms. Educational platform located at the highest level to overlook the campus. The residential platform, the lowest level as it’s more private and isolated. The middle platform where all the services and day-to-day activities take place it is designed to invite the local community inside the campus. All platforms are connected through a main educational spine and a series plazas and courtyards. This educational spine was designed to direct the flow of people towards the view of the sea.

Another key design strategy was the clustering of the educational buildings; each building is designed around a smaller central plaza that leads the students into the school. Each school then circulates around a series of intimate courtyards that accommodate the prospective students’ various activities. These courtyards also play an important role in regulating the overall temperature on site. The difference in temperatures allows the wind to circulate throughout the campus.

El Tour Campus Main Gate Entrance CDC Abdelhalim Architecture office
El Tour Campus Main Gate Entrance

ElTour Campus is built on 206 feddan, that is being built on 2 phases. Phase one consists of the School of Engineering, School of Industrial Technology and School of Sciences. While phase two consists of the School of Pharmacy, School of Nursing and School of Medicine. Incorporating a sports complex, student dorms, and faculty Residence. In addition to the 12,000 m.sq. main library that can accommodate up to 1,300 students.

Sharm El Sheikh Campus

Inspired by Alhambra Palace in Granada, Sharm El Sheikh Campus was designed on the idea of a connecting spine and two major courtyards. That decision was based on the context as the site was too big for the program provided. Both the buildings and the main spine were directed towards the soaring mountains of Sharm el Sheikh.

The campus is being built on 25 feddan and it consists of; School of Hospitality and Tourism, School of Architecture, School of Alsun, Student Dorms, Faculty Residence, Library, and a Hotel.

Ras Sedr Campus

Ras Sedr Campus designed by CDC Abdelhalim Ibrahim architecture office
Ras Sedr Campus

Last but not least, Ras Sedr Campus was simply inspired by the surrounding context; its fabric was designed as a humble village that is surrounded by vast areas of land.

All campuses are designed to suit the local climate of the peninsula, hot aired weather. This translated into shaded arcades, louvered windows, and small courtyards. Also, only local vegetation that can withstand hot climate was used across the three campuses to minimize water consumption.

Energy efficiency and Sustainability measures

Creating an environmentally responsible campus in such a hot and arid context required a lot of architectural and urban solutions to function efficiently. The design team worked on optimizing the buildings using various methods to provide comfort to the users all year long. While still respecting forms of design and architectural expression.

In outdoor spaces, the architects zoned the buildings in a way that creates intimate shaded spaces connected with shaded arcades. Varying in the size and orientation of outdoor courtyards created a varied air pressure across campus which allowed for continuous air movement.

Technology Plaza in ElTour Campus
Technology Plaza in ElTour Campus
King Salman University in Sinai Sharm El Sheikh Campus
Sharm El Sheikh Campus

Interior spaces were also treated sustainably; large shaded windows were used to allow maximum daylight while preventing overheating of interior spaces. Most of the glass that was used is double layered. Moreover, most of the classrooms and library were oriented towards the north. Wind towers and passive cooling techniques were used to promote natural ventilation and decrease the use of mechanical systems. CDC treated all building walls with insulation to decrease heat gain during summer days. The landscape was designed with local plants that require minimal irrigation water. 

Materials used from the local environment

Using local materials in design has a huge effect on the overall sustainability of the campus. The value of using local material resides beyond the connection to the context. It helps in the overall environmental optimization and the reduction of construction costs. The architects chose to use limestone and granite materials from the local context.

Challenges that encountered the design and construction process

Building in the middle of the desert proved to be very complex in terms of design and constructability. The three campuses are located in an area with no surrounding context and barely a living community; this made that design process a challenge because as an architect you are not only responsible for designing a university but also building a community from scratch that would hopefully flourish in the next 20 years.

Another design challenge was that the site given was enormous compared to the program required by the ministry of higher education. Nevertheless, in such a hot and aired context open spaces and long walking paths were difficult to use. As a result, CDC opted to create small shaded courtyards, shaded arcades and native plants to connect the buildings and create habitable plazas.

ElTour Lecture rooms
ElTour Lecture rooms
Curved wall, king salman university, Ras Sedr Campus
Curved wall, Ras Sedr Campus

CDC also faced some challenges during the construction phase. The fact that it is located in a remote area made it difficult to find site engineers and many other resources. The given time frame of the project whether for the design phase or the construction phase was extremely difficult to meet, architects and engineers always had to put in extra hours to meet the deadline.

Area: 300 Feddan (3 Campuses)
Budget: $ 250 Million
Project start – end date: 2016 – present
Architects: Master-planning: CDC Abdelhalim – EHAF
Architect: CDC Abdelhalim

Design Team: Ayman ElGohary, Ihab Abdelaziz, Ashraf Salloum, Kout ElShazly, Mohamed Hassan, Nader Moro, , Hania Ghazal, Yara Tayseer Asmaa Saleh Yasmine Gafaar Ahmed Faisal  Raymond Michel , Ahmed Elleithy, Dina Taha Eslam Salem, Nahed Zeimitar Mohamed Yasser , Kareem Attia,  Mostafa Fawzy, Mostafa Baroody, Mohamed Abdelwahab, Abdelrahman Ismail

Abdelrahman ElHaitmy, Yasmine Samir, Nora Youness, Areej Shehata, Abdallah Elmasry, Mohamed Mansy,Mostafa Osama, Weal Khalil, Dawood Zokoum (Models)

Structural Design: Misr Consult

MEP Consultant: EHAF

Infrastructure Consultant: IHCG

Roads: HAIAAH


Architect, interior designer, urban planner, researcher, and founder of Linesmag. Moustafa has worked in all of the mentioned fields and she loves sharing and exchanging knowledge with others.

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