State oil company Saudi Aramco received bids on 3 April for the main construction contract on the estimated SR1.5bn ($400m) King Abdulaziz Centre for Knowledge & Culture in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province.

According to sources close to the project, at least seven contractors submitted bids for the project.

The bidders include:

  • Al-Yamama Company for Trading & Contracting (local)
  • Baytur Construction & Contracting Company (Turkey)
  • Drake & Scull International (UAE)
  • Hyundai Engineering & Construction (South Korea)
  • SK Engineering & Construction (South Korea)
  • Saudi Oger (local)
  • Nesma & Partners Contracting Company (local)

The construction work includes five interconnected buildings, the tallest of which will be 15 storeys high. The complex will include exhibition halls, a museum, a mosque, a library, a cinema and an auditorium and theatre for up to 1,000 visitors.

The project is scheduled for completion in 2013 and has been designed to resemble five pebbles standing in the desert. Clad in stainless steel, Aramco says the pebbles will reflect the sun’s rays to make the structure visible over long distances. The centre will cover an area of 72,000 square metres.

Norway’s Snohetta is the lead architect. Four UK firms are also involved in the project: Buro Happold will serve as structural and mechanical engineer; Davis Langdon as cost manager; Davis Langdon Schumann Smith as design project manager; and Faithful and Gould will manage the project.

It is the second time bids have been submitted for the project. Aramco first received bids from the local Saudi Binladin Group, Oger, Greece’s J&P Overseas, and Baytur for the contract in March last year, but in July chose to retender the scheme.

According to sources working on the project, Aramco retendered the scheme in the hope of attracting lower bids after a fall in construction costs across the region during 2009.