Renowned British architecture firm Foster + Partners has just completed the conceptual design for a circular resort in Saudi Arabia. The hotel, called Ummahat AlShaykh Hotel 12, was designed as part of the Red Sea Project—the most ambitious tourism endeavor in the world.
Planned by The Red Sea Development Company, the Red Sea Project will drive the growth of tourism along Saudi Arabia’s west coast. Well-known architects like Kengo Kuma and Foster + Partners are among the designers dreaming up luxurious projects for these relatively untouched islands between Umluj and Al Wajh, Saudia Arabia.
Foster’s circular proposal in the middle of the Red Sea is designed for Ummahat AlShaykh island but goes past the boundary of land by using stilts to build suites far into the water. Each hotel suite breaks away from the continuous circular path and is covered with a tropical timber roof. This style is used for all buildings in the resort including guest rooms, restaurants, and public rest areas all over the island.
Foster + Partners explains that environmental responsibility was an important consideration in their design for Ummahat AlShaykh Hotel 12. It had to meet the requirements set forth by the Red Sea Project like the use of renewable energy, banning single-use plastics, and planning for 100% carbon neutrality. Aside from the technical sustainable requirements, the designers wanted the project to be inherently environmentally friendly.
“When we looked at the islands our approach was to have a light touch. As light as we could possibly be,” says Gerard Evenden of Foster + Partners. The firm wanted to introduce tourism to this remote site with little to no harm to the natural environment. “How do you bring people to these places where nobody has been before?” asks Evenden. “And how do you bring people into those places without damaging anything?” These questions drove the design and helped them to develop a minimally invasive proposal that will allow future guests to truly appreciate the environment for years to come.