Along Saudi Arabia’s west coast of vast archipelago, consisting of more than 90 pristine islands, is what will soon become The Red Sea Project – one of the Kingdom’s most ambitious projects that aims to establish the country as a leader in regenerative tourism. The project is set to feature sustainable design solutions and infrastructure, using renewable energy to power the entire destination, underpinned by the largest battery storage system in the world. The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) has also committed to deliver a 30 percent net conservation benefit by 2040.
UK architecture giant Foster + Partners is behind the development’s ‘Coral Bloom’ concept that is inspired by the Kingdom’s distinct flora and fauna and aims to blend with the island’s natural environment. The concept will extend the overall vision for TRSDC, including its recently unveiled main hub island of Shurayrah.
“Shurayrah Island is the gateway to The Red Sea Project – so it’s important that it sets the standard in ground-breaking architecture and sustainable design, not just for our destination but globally too. This is achieved by going beyond simply protecting the environment, to applying a regenerative approach,” says John Pagano, CEO of TRSDC.
The plan sets biodiversity considerations at the forefront of the design concept, with plans to avoid disruption of the island’s natural resources, including its mangroves and other such habitats, and provide natural defences from erosion. Plans also include creating new habitats through landscaping that will further enhance the island’s natural environment. The proposal outlines designs for 11 luxury hotels that are immersed into the landscape, allowing the island’s natural beauty to reign supreme.
The island’s natural landscape will be used to dramatic effect, with all hotels and villas nestled within the landscape where the absence of high-rise buildings ensures spectacular vistas remain uninhibited; all the while creating a sense of mystery for guests as the island slowly reveals itself.
“Our vision for Shurayrah is inspired by the island’s natural state, with the hotels designed to give the impression that they have washed up on the beaches and nestled among the dunes, almost like driftwood. The materials we use and the low impact they have ensures that the pristine environment is protected, while the additions we make to the island serve to enhance what is already there – hence the name, Coral Bloom,” explains Gerard Evenden, Head of Studio at Foster + Partners
The design has also taken into consideration changing traveller demands in response to the coronavirus pandemic. For example, there will be no internal corridors, in line with travellers’ requests for larger spaces and areas for seclusion.
New beaches will also be created on the dolphin-shaped island, along with a new lagoon, all contributing to raising the level of the land to provide a defensive layer from the global threat of rising sea levels. The resorts themselves will be created using lightweight materials with a low thermal mass which are manufactured offsite, resulting in more energy-efficient construction and less impact on the environment.
Shurayrah is one of 22 islands selected for development and is currently on track to welcome its first guests by the end of 2022, in line with the opening of its international airport and first four hotels. The remaining 12 hotels in phase one of The Red Sea Project are set to open in the following year.