by Jincy IypeFeb 17, 2021
Touted to be one of the world’s most aspiring developments in luxury tourism - The Red Sea Project is soon to become a vision of a diversifying experience for international tourists and travellers along Saudi Arabia’s west coast. Part of this mega project is the Southern Dunes hotel, one of the two inland resorts here being designed by Foster + Partners, which is expected to be completed by 2022. The hotel scheme is conceived as an array of wavy timber roofs that house 40 villas below, arranged in two lines to get maximum visibility of the stunning desert landscape that stretches out in front of them.
The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) recently released the images of the hotel which will be constructed 100 kms northeast of the Umluj beach town on the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia. The development of the Southern Dunes hotel will also include restaurants, central hotel buildings, a pool, a spa, staff accommodation for 700 employees and the new interlinking infrastructure. Local firm Al-Bawani is managing the civil and structural works across the Southern Dunes villas.
British international studio Foster + Partners plans to employ only lightweight materials for the resort design, and not use stone or concrete as such building materials heat up and in a desert area it would take a really long time for them to cool down. The studio also does not want to increase the hotel structure’s dependence on artificial cooling. "What is very important about anything sustainable is two things: one is giving people choices. And the second thing is looking at what the resultant reaction of what you do will be. So, when we looked at the islands our approach was to have a light touch. As light as we could possibly be," mentioned Gerard Evenden, Head of Studio at Foster + Partners.
While the asymmetrical roof design is covered with a fabric material supporting the timber frames, the communal buildings and spaces are planned to be sheltered by curved umbrella-like clusters assembled atop timber columns. "The more transportable finished items we can bring, the better. And that will lead not only to fast reactive buildings but will also lead to incredibly energy efficient construction," added Evenden.
The drawing board project further intends to design lightweight structures that can be incorporated using fabricated elements, built offsite to accelerate the process of construction.
The Southern Dunes hotel is developed as part of the first phase of The Red Sea Project. Foster + Partners has also designed the Coral Bloom Resort on Shurayrah Island, that mimics the colours and shapes of coral reefs native to the area.
The Red Sea Project - being developed over 28,000 sqm of pristine lands and waters along Saudi Arabia’s west coast - is on track to welcome the first guests by the end of 2022, with the opening of the international airport and a few hotels. All 16 hotels part of the Phase I will be in operation by end of 2023.
Upon completion in 2030, the destination will comprise 50 resorts, offering up to 8,000 hotel rooms and more than 1,000 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites. Tourists to this destination can also soak in the extravagance of luxury marinas, golf courses, entertainment and leisure facilities, sweeping desert dunes, mountain canyons, dormant volcanoes, and ancient cultural and heritage sites.
Name: Southern Dunes
Location: Saudi Arabia
Architect: Foster + Partners
Year of completion: 2022