ZAS Architects to design college for the visually impaired in Saudi Arabia

Marek Zawadzki, Principal at ZAS. Photo by Jag Photography.
Marek Zawadzki, Principal at ZAS. Photo by Jag Photography.

Canadian and United Arab Emirates-based ZAS Architects & Interiors have been selected by Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University (PMU) to further the vision of the University with the design of its new college, Prince Sultan College for the Visually Impaired (PSCVI). 

PMU is a private university in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, currently offering undergraduate degrees in engineering, science, business administration, sciences and various masters programs. 

Located in the Al Khobar area of the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, phase one of the new 30,000 m2 facility will accommodate 500 students. Plans for the advanced educational environment include a 400 seat auditorium,  eight lane/25 metre lap pool, sports gymnasia, a fully equipped medical centre and residential apartment blocks for 100 students. 

PSCVI ‘s mission is to prepare and qualify the visually impaired through learning and training opportunities to be self-sufficient and integrate into the community workplace. 

Strategically partnering with the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) for the design of the new College, PMU is aiming to create an academic program for PSCVI in accordance with international standards and the needs of the local environment. Based in Hereford, England, RNC is the United Kingdom’s leading specialist residential college of further education for people with a visual impairment.

PSCVI’s curriculum is a unique eight to 10 year program with the initial three years focusing on students’ skills, independent development and basic pre-university education. Students can then enter the five-year program, where they can receive a bachelor’s degree in various disciplines. Two additional years are allowed for students who may require more time to complete a successful educational journey.

Jonathan Bretherton, International Programme Director at RNC, says “RNC has 150 years of experience in the field of visual impairment. Applying our expertise in accessibility, technology, and education to a new build of this nature is an exciting opportunity to develop a world-class facility which will set new standards for inclusion.”

The design and development team comprising PMU, ZAS and RNC are currently finalizing the functional building program for PSCVI.  Concept design will be released in Fall 2016.

ZAS Architects + Interiors continues to advance the design excellence of educational facilities around the world.  Most recently, the Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence at York University has been internationally acclaimed as advancing a new paradigm in education through its active learning approach and student-centric design emphasis.  ZAS plans to continue its pioneering interest in college-based education for the future development and realization of PSCVI.