A few days ago, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman laid the foundation stone for a new development in the Kingdom’s historic Al Ula region. The upcoming project is Al Sharaan Nature Reserve, a 925-square kilometer structure that has been inspired by the region’s distinct rocky landscape. This week, award-winning French architect Jean Nouvel revealed that there will also be a star project as part of the reserve, the Sharaan Resort, which is a luxury location set to be located among the rocks deep in a valley offering residential estates, a summit center, a spa, and restaurants.
“I think that for an architect to build a project on such a site is a rare and wonderful opportunity […] The area is characterized by the diversity and precision of its unique embossments that were defined by the movement of the wind and the water. […] I actually established the relation between history and modernity by using the region’s geographical nature, especially the rocks […] We will rely on the knowledge to create some internal fresh spaces similar to the patios found in the Arab culture,” said Nouvel in a recent article by Arab News.
“I thought that we could use the rocks because their temperature is always at 20 degrees. It will allow us to welcome guests inside the rocks without consuming a lot of energy. It also offers them the chance to get on top of the rocks and contemplate the magnificent sceneries. […] That is why I think visitors will be happy and amazed here. They will come to spend a few days and interact with one another. This could turn architecture and culture into a means of connection, a better way to understand and express the culture and pleasures of an era through the furnished units,” he continued.
Foundation stone laid by Crown Prince MBS - image via Arab News
Nouvel, who comes from France and has won a multitude of awards for the signature style of his designs that often “create a visual landscape” and fit their specific context perfectly, brought the world’s attention to the United Arab Emirates for his design of Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened in 2017 and features a distinctive latticed dome that filters the bright desert light.