Saudi Vision 2030 to change design of buildings in the kingdom

Posted on 23rd March 2018

Saudi Vision 2030 to change design of buildings in the kingdom
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According to *Gulf News report, Saudi Arabia has an opportunity to rewrite the rule book — Vision 2030 as unveiled by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman is fundamentally helping to change the design of buildings in the kingdom. And the Saudi market’s sheer size warrants the attention of the world.

Because of the transformation that is undergoing, the country has an opportunity to tell the world how it wants to be perceived. The built environment will play a key role in crafting this perception. But while we see already how these opportunities are being realised in the architecture, the approach to designing different buildings naturally must be treated with sensitivity.

For example, the approach if you are building critical infrastructure projects such as schools or hospitals must be delivered on a practical and pragmatic level; requirement needs to be fit and be appropriate for purpose.

On the other side, our work in Mecca on the King Abdulla Aziz Road (KAAR) necessitates a completely different building typology and a different requirement. Just as religious tourism is accelerating at pace, so too is the development of this new mega-city, which in turn is being spurred on by the impetus that visitors to the Haj and Umrah are set to increase from 5 million to 30 million within a short time.
This project is at the front line of the transformation of Saudi Arabia. it is at once modern, yet steeped in its religious and historical roots.

Fundamentally it is going from vision to masterplanning and to reality within a 10-year period. This is very encouraging. We see examples such as the King Abdullah Financial District, which is undergoing a huge rethink on how this development will be completed. Eventually, we will see very modern buildings dominating the skyline, positioning it at the forefront of this new version of Saudi Arabia.

Furthermore, with the expectation of more than 3 million square metres of space for various uses, 62,000 parking spaces and accommodation for 12,000 residents, the King Abdullah Financial District — already mooted as a host for the G20 summit in 2020 — will embody everything about the drive to modernity. Within this development, we will also see the investment in infrastructure, railway networks and underground systems, which are key to building sustainable mega-cities.

Despite these very forward-thinking projects, we also see the heritage meeting the ambition of the future. Managing these dichotomies at once poses both a challenge and an opportunity to help this vision become a reality. Naturally the key principles of Saudi heritage are rooted in religion; and this is the real thread that runs through Vision 2030 of course.

While the big opportunities are in these new mega-cities and resorts, we need to be mindful that the latest thinking is sensitive to the requirements and are delivered on a macro socioeconomic level. Creating contemporary design that are a testament to tradition is absolute.
Architecture is all about appropriateness. There are certain parameters that one needs to stick to. When we look at The Louvre in Abu Dhabi and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, these are examples of buildings that transcend what they stand for. They create a buzz around them that not only makes them visually appealing, but helps to change the social environment around them and in turn the country itself.

Iconic projects like these draw in tourism, and we only have to look at the Burj Al Arab to see how it has and continues to be a pull. People want to visit the city just to see this icon.

Saudi Arabia is very much aware of this. With the country having one of the highest visited religious sites in the world, there is a clear opportunity to help build iconic projects that will act as force fields to attract tourism both for religious reasons and wider. In the future, we will see these projects come to fruition in Saudi Arabia as the ambitions for the country are realised.

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