Foster and Partners wins the competition by Jabal Omar Development company to design luxury hotel and serviced apartments in the Islamic Holy City, Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. Mecca receives an estimated amount of more than 3.7 million Muslim pilgrims, yearly, to perform Hajj, and so the new project aims to offer sufficient accommodation for the rising numbers of visitors every year.
The project’s designers are influenced by traditional Arab architecture as well as the natural context. They are employing the region’s traditional dense clusters in a new way, resulting in a unique contemporary vernacular design with vertical elements arranged in a manner that resembles the surrounding mountains and linked by a remarkable pedestrian ramp. All the hotel rooms and apartments shall include prayer and contemplation rooms with an optimized view of the Holy Kaaba, providing for a quite spiritual effect. The project is meant to be a “gateway” for pilgrims from all over the world heading to the Grand Mosque from the Haramain Railway Station.
In that regard, Luke Fox, Head of Studio and Senior Executive Partner in Foster and Partners said: “Makkah is one of the most unique cities in the world. As the home of the Holy Kaaba – the holiest site in Islam – it presents a special challenge and honour for any developer and architect. Our design sets out to create an innovative building form that will be respectful to the scale and importance of the Grand Mosque.” Then, he added that “the design follows a philosophy of ‘luxury with humility’ with an understated elegance throughout the development.”