Mecca has unveiled plans to build the world’s largest hotel by 2017. The 10,000-room Abraj Kudai hotel will be built in the Manafia district, just south of the Grand Mosque. It will be a city within a city, hosting 70 restaurants, food courts, a bus station, shopping mall, conference center, ballroom and five floors dedicated entirely to the Saudi royal family; all will be set within a cluster of 12 towers standing atop a 10-story podium and centered around a massive dome.
Foster + Partners has been appointed through an international competition to develop the “architectural vision” for Jeddah’s city-wide public transport plan. The commission, made official today by the Makkah Province governor, seeks to establish a “long-term, sustainable” city network plan that will foster flexible growth and achieve efficiency through the integration of all modes of transportation, including metro, ferry, bus and cycle.
“The comprehensive plan extends from the design of the stations to the trains and branding,” said Foster + Partners. “In addition, the development of the metro system will create a new urban amenity for the city of Jeddah at key locations below the elevated track.” The masterplan will also allocate space for public squares and various nodes of development.
According to the Architects’ Journal, Foster + Partners has been selected to design all 46 stations of the new $12 billion metro system in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - a commission that could earn the practice up to £100 million ($160 million) in fees. Planned for a 2020 completion date and a 2022 opening, the metro project aims to remove 30% of Jeddah’s traffic within the next 20 years, a significant goal as until now public transport has not been popular: currently just one or two percent of commuters in the city use public transport.
Drawing both literal and theoretical inspiration from the Islamic Holy Book, Rafael de La-Hoz Arquitectos earned an Honourable Mention for their design proposal of a habitable natural oasis for the Noble Quran International Competition in Saudi Arabia.
Understanding the significance of the location’s proximity to Islam’s second holiest city and the Capital of Islamic Culture, Rafael de La-Hoz aimed to create a memorable and iconic Islamic Landmark. Therefore, the Quran itself was chosen as the primary source of physical and contextual understanding, the most significant vessel of knowledge for the people and the location.
Erick van Egeraat have released images of their design for the city center of Unayzah in Saudi Arabia. Thanks to a 4-lane ring road and an underground thoroughfare linking to underground parking, the 58 hectare site will be entirely pedestrianized at ground level, featuring 70,000 square meters of shopping areas, a gold market, apartments, and offices, all of which will join the city’s existing central mosque.
More on the city center design after the break
Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura and Gerber Architekten have tied for first place in a competition to design a cultural and civic Islamic center in Saudi Arabia, beating several well known international competitors, including Zaha Hadid Architects and gmp Architekten. The ultimate winner will be announced at a later date.
Ricardo Bofill‘s proposal for the center, which is meant to foster the research, study and transmission of the Qur’an, takes geometric inspiration from traditional Islamic cities:
“The first Islamic city had a circular plan, with all spaces being enclosed in the circle representing the elemental symbol of unity and the ultimate source of diversity in creation. This traditional city, or rather the idea of this city, serves as the base and the essence for the creation of the Islamic modern city. Such a background has led us to choose a circular concept as the main representational shape of the project for The Noble Qur’an Oasis. This unique civic and cultural landmark, with its sleek, minimalist design, is a symbolic container where the Islamic science and culture will be displayed.”
Read the architect’s description of their design, after the break.
The world economy has endured a series of crises over the past century, and architecture has recently been recognized as a harbinger of these crises. Two years ago, British finance group Barclays released an index of skyscraper construction projects that correlate with the occurrence of economic downturns since 1873. Many of the tallest buildings in the world have been built at times of severe economic struggle, the most recent being Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, built during the Great Recession of 2007 through 2010. According to Barclays, “the world’s tallest buildings are simply the edifice of a broader skyscraper building boom, reflecting a widespread misallocation of capital and an impending economic correction.”
All the major financial crises in the past century, and the buildings that predicted them after the break…
The King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) is a new 55-million-square-foot mixed-use urban community in Riyadh. Among its public buildings under construction is FXFOWLE Architects’ Museum of the Built Environment (MOBE), which explores the role of social, economic, and environmental issues in the development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the larger region. The museum will exhibit works related to the history of the arts and architecture on the Arabian peninsula, as well as document trends in sustainable thinking and their role in the future of the built environment. The museum puts the traditionally private culture of Saudi Arabia on display, creating a building for residents and visitors.
Architects: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Design Partner: Roger Duffy, FAIA
Managing Partner: Peter Magill, AIA
Project Manager: Joseph Ruocco, AIA
Senior Design Architect: Scott Duncan, AIA
Design Architect: Jackie Wong, AIA
Area: 890,000 sq ft
Seen as geologic formations rising from the land, the design for the KAFD Men’s and Women’s Portal Spas by WORKSBUREAU form great shade porticos beneath long cantilevered masses. Located in two of the civic Attractor beacons of the dense urban King Abdullah Financial District of Riyadh, the project also forms the gateway to the masterplan, framing the main park as it flows into the Wadi pedestrian artery. More images and architects’ description after the break.
NACO, its Saudi Arabian branch SADECO, and global architect HOK were just awarded the contract to design the expansion of King Khaled International Airport (KKIA) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The design consists of the expansion of the existing terminals 3 and 4, which will enable the airport to handle 20-25 million passengers per year. Currently, the 30-year-old airport is handling approximately 15 million passengers annually. NACO, Netherlands Airport Consultants, a Royal HaskoningDHV company, and HOK will lead the design team for this prestigious project. More architects’ description and their press release after the break.
According to Derek Thompson’s article for The Atlantic, the Brookings Institute recently published a ranking of the world’s 200 largest metropolitan economies. The Global MetroMonitor division of the Brookings Institute, published the report on January 2012. In this brief synopsis, he reveals the “10 Fastest-Growing (and Fastest-Declining) Cities in the World”. Among the fastest growing is Santiago, Chile, the only Latin American country in the top 10. The top 10 is primarily populated by Asian countries – China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia all have multiple cities in on the list. Conversly, the tail end of the list is dominated by Western European countries most affected by the economic downturn, with just two cities from the US – Sacramento, California and Richmond, Virginia.
The survey primarily focuses on their economic development comparing income and job growth, to say nothing of the cultural, societal, and political circumstances which may or may not be contributing the dynamism of each city’s economy. Thompson points out, two of the fastest growing cities in the world, Izmir, Turkey and Santiago, Chile are also among the poorest. Developing countries have the most to gain as they join the global economy but it may still be sometime before the economic growth balances a comfortable standard of living. Watch the interview with Alan Berube from MetroMonitor.
With all of that in mind, follow us after the break for a look at the list.