X-Architects’ entry for the Desert Resort Competition, generated a luxury 60 keys desert hideaway resort, in an ultra-harsh and empty environment. Placed in Rub’ Al Khali, the world’s biggest sand sea located in the KSA, the project addresses the challenging design in desert-like surroundings.
Located in the Arabian Peninsula’s Empty Quarter, in a desert covered with 250-meter-high reddish sand dunes, interrupted with white salt flats called "Sabkhas", the resort is inspired directly by its context. To intensify the experience of visitors with the particular surrounding, X-Architects imagined “a constellation of architecture strategically placed on the vast terrain”. In fact, using the existing topography, the project puts in place dune shaped units, offering views of sabkhas. Moreover, other elements placed on the highest point of the site, grow vertically like the desert flower Cistanche Tubulosa and propose views towards the stars.
Created out of salt, a horizontal white spa “carpet” celebrates the healing quality of minerals. The underground structure is defined by a series of one-directional walls, and the sun is filtered through incisions on the surface of the salt carpet.
The Main Arrival Hall is inspired by natural carvings found in the landscape. Actually, “to create a strong relationship between architecture and landscape, the interior spaces were carved from dunes to form sand-filled columns”.
We go to the desert to become one with nature, experience solitude and ponder about creation. We start to notice the magical spectrum of light throughout the day. At night, the desert transforms magically: the air is cooler, stars emerge like the Arabian Nights tale, and darkness has infinite shades! Exquisite indigenous plants are shaped beautifully and protect themselves from the extreme environment. The wind becomes like a land artist, moving similar sized sand particles and minerals to reveal the richness of its intense color. -- X-Architects.
The flower villa, inspired by the desert rose, engenders an elongated and enclosed structure. “A polymer fiber mesh encloses the structure partially to minimize exposure to sandstorms, collects water for the indigenous garden, and supports the structure”. On another hand, the Dune units, following the existing texture of the terrain, minimize the impact of the intervention on the land. “A vertical garden was incorporated to create an ecosystem that is served by the reuse of water and vegetation, and enhanced by the stepped back wall that seamlessly sinks into the existing sand dunes”.
Desert Resort Competition
- Architecture Firm: X-Architects
- Gross Built Area: 240,000 sqm
- Project location: Empty Quarter, Saudi Arabia
- Lead Architects: Ahmed Al Ali, Farid Esmaeil
- Design Team: Ahmed Al-Ali, Farid Esmaeil, Mohammad Abu Farha, Moeen Salam, Farah Abu Hamza, Khaled Abu Shahla, Arvin Padayo, Asil Zureigat
- Engineering & Sustainability: Ramboll
- Landscape: Verdaus
- Renders: Vyonyx
- Animation: 212 Agency