Sloping down northwards, the building envelope restores visual harmony between the monumental government buildings to the south and Al-Zahra’s low residences to the north. This urban threshold is coupled with the challenge of marrying the pragmatism of the bureaucratic typology with the monumentalism that is typical of a government institution. A 20 m wide office floor plate snakes its way through the colonnaded urban canopy along the south facade, cascading gradually into the ground down to the basement for direct access to the jail, wrapped around an outdoor sunken courtyard.
The half-monument and half-office ‘minotaur’ building complex dynamically ramps and loops a generic office floor plate, gradating sectionally to mediate between the jail and the investigation pool, the prisoner and the investigator, the landscape and the monument, creating a lucid reading of negotiating binaries. The rising complex detaches itself from the flat desert landscape to shade a reflecting oasis-like pool sprinkled by pavilions for common use.