The King Fahd Expressway is a major spine that runs through Riyadh in the north-south direction. Five kilometres of this spine pass through the downtown area, and it is landscaped in order to transform it from a major transportation route that typically downgrades every place it passes through into an urban development that improves the quality of the surrounding environment. The project began when Dr. Mohammed Al-Sheikh, the former president of the Ar-Riyadh Development Authority, convinced higher authorities of another alternative in which the expressway is not just another traffic spine but also a green backbone that connects both sides of the city with visually and functionally appealing parks. This was possible after sinking most of the road under ground level, thus further decreasing air and noise pollution.
The expressway was to serve the inner city and not only its borders. It was to be environmentally friendly. Noise and air pollution levels needed to be carefully studied to be kept to a minimum, and surroundings neighbourhoods enhanced. Existing land ownership overlooking the project was not be harmed by the project. Pedestrians needed to be able to move from one side of the road to the other, and be provided with safe, shaded walkways.
The project sought to transform this stretch of road into a green corridor, linking the parts of the city with each other. It was necessary for the road landscaping to supply visual screening and micro-climatic improvement. The central idea of the landscaping is focused on the use of shade trees in clusters which constitute a distinguished façade and mass for the project compared to other sections of the expressway. It was also to provide small green spaces for urban recreation as well as a central garden in the middle of the development. Road intersections were to be planted with trees and shrubs lining the walkways. Adjacent neighbourhoods were to be incorporated by landscaping the remaining unused, appropriated pieces of land.
Source: Aga Khan Trust for Culture