Posts tagged with "Saudi Arabia":

Here are the six first-time national pavilions at the 2018 Venice Biennale

The 16th Venice Architecture Biennale curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara will feature national pavilions from several first-time exhibitors. Responding to the Biennale’s Freespace theme in manifold ways, the new participants deal with everything from humanity’s relationship to the environment to faith and religion. Saudi Arabia Commissioned by the Misk Art Institute, Saudi Arabia’s first Biennale pavilion, called Spaces in Between, will explore both the fragmentation and connection brought on by uneven urbanization and suburbanization. Turki and Abdulrahman Gazzaz, the brother founders of architectural design consultancy Brick Lab, will be realizing the project, which includes an installation of resin cylinders (the petroleum origin of which references the nation’s oil reserves that have fueled rapid urban development), sand from different regions of Saudi Arabia, and infographics. Venue: Arsenale Holy See The Vatican commissioned curator and historian Francesco Dal Co to select ten architects to contribute to Vatican Chapels, a collection of small chapels by architects from across the globe on Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore. The Holy See hopes that the chapels will not feel tied to the traditional church form, only requiring that they each have a pulpit and an altar, and have the ability to be reconstructed elsewhere. Visitors will enter Vatican Chapels through the Asplund Pavilion, which will present an exhibition of drawings by Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund that is informed by his 1920 Woodland Chapel. Designed by Venice-based MAP Studio, the Asplund Pavilion will serve as both an anchor and as a point of departure for the rest of Vatican Chapels. The participating architects are Andrew Berman (United States), Carla Juaçaba (Brazil), Eduardo Souto de Moura (Portugal), Eva Prats & Ricardo Flores (Spain), Francesco Cellini (Italy), Javier Corvalán (Paraguay), Norman Foster (United Kingdom), Sean Godsell (Australia), Smiljan Radic (Chile), and Terunobu Fujimori (Japan). Venue: Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore Pakistan Curated by Karachi-based architect and scholar Sami Chohan, The Fold will be Pakistan’s first presentation at the Biennale. Exploring the dense, informal settlements of Pakistan’s most populous (and the world’s third largest) city, Karachi, The Fold considers open space in the face of constant contraction. As a city that has grown 20-fold in the past 70 years, Karachi’s constricted public space often cannot take the form of parks and other traditional open spaces. Instead, public space grows from the social interactions that limn the corridors of these narrow settlements—constructing a dense form of urban “openness.” Venue: Giardini della Marinaressa – Giardino di Levante Antigua and Barbuda Curated by landscape architect Barbara Paca, Antigua and Barbuda’s exhibition at Venice will be known as Environmental Justice as a Civil Right. The exhibition centers on three sites in Antigua and Barbuda, using them to interrogate the relationship between architecture and the environment by way of models, drawings, and other objects. Venue: Don Orione Artigianelli, Dorsoduro 919 Guatemala Stigma, curated by Stefania Pieralice, Carlo Marraffa, and Elsie Wunderlich, explores notions of virtual and utopian architecture. Responding to the crises of language, narrative, and meaning in postmodernity, the projects from Regina Dávila, Marco Manzo, Adriana Padilla Meyer, Studio Domus, UR Project, and Elsie Wunderlich imagine a “virtual city.” The pavilion will exhibit an array of models, monuments, and "large planispheres." Venue: Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello, Cannaregio 4118 Lebanon Lebanon’s first pavilion at the Biennale will gather numerous individuals, architects, artists, researchers, and institutions to reflect on unbuilt land and its use and disuse. Primarily focusing on the Beirut River and its watershed, the centerpiece of The Place that Remains, as the pavilion will be known, will be a comprehensive 3-D territorial model. The pavilion is curated by architect and Assistant Professor of Architecture at the Lebanese American University Hala Younes. Venue: Arsenale [googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d11121.408953772161!2d12.342916809924194!3d45.43572791299231!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x0%3A0x326075048d72cf38!2sDon+Orione+Artigianelli!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1526049177751&w=600&h=450]

Saudi Arabia announces NEOM, a $500 billion megacity on the Red Sea

The Saudi Arabian government has announced plans to build a 10,000-square-mile megacity called NEOM on the coast of the Red Sea, covering an area three times the size of New York City. The announcement was made by Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday at an international business conference in Riyadh. More than $500 billion has already been pledged in support of the project by the Saudi government, its Public Investment Fund (PIF), and local and international investors. The developer behind the project is Klaus Kleinfeld, former chairman and CEO of industrial manufacturing company Siemens AG, and Alcoa, of the world's largest aluminum producers. NEOM represents the Crown Prince's latest move to prepare Saudi Arabia for the post-oil era. In the past two years alone, he has revealed plans to sell a stake in Saudi Aramco, the world's second largest daily oil producer, and created a sovereign wealth fund (PIF) to aid in the transition to a post-oil economy. Prince Mohammed has pitched NEOM as part of a "new generation of cities," a departure from the kingdom's existing urban landscape. In Tuesday's announcement, he outlined some of NEOM's features: the city will be free to operate outside of governmental regulations. The city, designated in an area near Saudi Arabia's northeast border with Egypt and Jordan, will rely entirely on wind and solar energy. All transportation within the city will be automated, and plans call for the construction of a massive bridge over the Red Sea to the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. A publicity video for NEOM depicts a tech and manufacturing hub with considerably different social mores than other Saudi cities—for instance, the video shows women jogging in leotards in public spaces and working alongside men. (The crown prince has described his wish for a return to "moderate Islam" in Saudia Arabia.) Steffen Hertog, a professor at the London School of Economics, told Bloomberg that NEOM "seems to be broadly modeled on the 'free zone' concept pioneered in Dubai, where such zones are not only exempt from tariffs but also have their own regulations and laws, hence operating separately from the rest of government." Previous mega-projects launched by the Saudi Arabian government have failed to flourish once oil prices rose. The crown prince vowed to commit to this project regardless of those fluctuations.  The first phase of the project is slated to be completed by 2025.

Architect Albert Speer, Jr., son of Nazi chief architect, dies at age 83

Internationally renowned architect Albert Speer, Jr. died on September 15 at the age of 83. He was one of Germany’s most respected architects and urban planners in his own right, but spent much of his career trying to separate his reputation from his father’s, who served as Adolf Hitler's chief architect. While father and son are tied together by blood, Speer, Sr. and Speer, Jr.'s architectural legacies have left contrasting marks on the built environment. The elder’s radical visions and mostly uncompleted projects are remembered as dark points in architectural history, while Speer Jr.’s modest and progressive approach to city planning have been widely respected within the design community. Speer, Sr., sometimes referred to as "the devil's architect," carried out some of the most flagrant architectural projects of the Third Reich, including the (subsequently demolished) Reich Chancellery, and his intricate plans to turn Berlin into a capital of overwhelming monumental scale, a project which stayed mostly un-completed due to the fall of the Nazi regime. Over the past five decades, Albert Speer Jr. and his Frankfurt-based firm, Albert Speer + Partner, has focused on “human-scale” buildings and sustainable city planning. While Speer Jr. completed numerous projects in his home city of Frankfurt, many of his firm's most renowned projects have been large-scale international commissions. The firm's work ranges from architecture, urban planning, transportation, landscape design and mega-event commissions such as the master plan leading to a successful bid for the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup. Other works include international campuses, residential developments, small-scale mixed use developments, educational facilities, and international government buildings. Despite prolonged attempts to overcome his father’s legacy, the architect would occasionally bump up against his family's fascist reputation. When Albert Speer + Partner decided to work on a commissioned project for a courthouse in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the firm was accused of working with an authoritarian government, and directly compared to Speer, Sr.’s Nazi legacy. Even-though Speer, Jr.’s discreet, humble and progressive designs were often seen as a conscious attempt to go against  his father’s style, comparisons and criticism still arose. Speer Jr.’s family heritage could never be fully erased. The designer of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial, Jewish American architect Peter Eisenman, Speer's colleague and friend for many years, reflected on their relationship in the Guardian: "With Albert, there is a bit of an edge, but we are great friends. It's the fascination of the other; Albert always wanted to be a Jewish intellectual, and I always wanted to be a f…[fascist] We can't all be what we want to be.”

Chicago’s Willis Tower falls off top ten list of tallest buildings in world

The Willis Tower (formerly known as, and still referred to by locals as, the Sears Tower) has been bumped from the Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat’s (CTBUH) top ten tallest buildings in the world list with the completion of the Gensler-designed Shanghai Tower in Shanghai, China. The significance of the Willis Tower’s fall from the top ten is in the fact that Chicago, as the birthplace of the skyscraper typology, has consistently been included in the list of top ten tallest buildings for at least the last 50 years. At 1,450 feet tall, the Willis Tower held the position of tallest in the world for 24 years from 1974–1998, when it was topped by the 1,483-foot-tall Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Council on Tall Building and Urban Habitat measures buildings “from the level of the lowest, significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance to the architectural top of the building, including spires, but not including antennae, signage, flagpoles or other functional-technical equipment” Perhaps in a twist of irony, the tallest buildings in the world that have pushed Chicago out of the rankings have often been designed in Chicago or by Chicago-based offices. Though designed in its San Francisco office, the Shanghai Tower is the work of Chicago-based Gensler. The current world’s tallest building, Dubai's 2,717-foot-tall Burj Khalifa, was designed by Chicago-based SOM, also the designers of the Willis Tower. SOM is also responsible for the design of One World Trade Center in New York, which bumped the Willis Tower from its position as tallest building in the United States. Chicago-based Adrian Smith of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, former design partner and head of the Burj Khalifa project at SOM, is also responsible for the Jeddah Tower which will take the crown of tallest in the world when it is completed in 2020, rising over Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at a height of over 3,300 feet. Though Chicago no longer boasts the tallest skyline, the expertise of its architects is in higher demand than ever. According to the CTBUH, Chicago’s Willis Tower, and many other towers in the United States, will hardly break the top 50 tallest buildings in the world within the next 10 years, yet it can counted on that many of the multitudes of Asian towers soon to be crowding the top will be designed in the city where it all began.

107 dead in Mecca as crane collapses on Islam’s most sacred mosque, Al-Masjid al-Haram

The Saudi Arabia civil defence authority reports nearly 200 injured as preparations were being made for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. The authority said the crane fell as a result of a storm in the vicinity, however, it is not yet known if this was the sole reason or whether there were any structural faults with the crane. A tweet below appears to show lightning hitting the crane minutes before it fell which may have caused the tragedy. If so, questions will be asked as to why it wasn't fitted with a sufficient electrical grounding mechanism. https://twitter.com/flyroundthewrld/status/642379123655053313 https://twitter.com/CNN/status/642406517648527361 https://twitter.com/BBCBreaking/status/642391030793433089 https://twitter.com/aamirsagar/status/642396441831448577 Every year hundreds of thousands of Muslims make their way to the site as part of the Hajj Pilgrimage. According to Al Jazeera, the crane fell at approximately 5:45p.m., with the mosque being packed 45 minutes before prayer. Some viewers may find footage in the video below disturbing and so viewer discretion is advised. https://youtu.be/SqxwoQLpC0A

This enormous collection of towers in Mecca will become the world’s largest hotel in 2017

Lucrative gains from annual religious pilgrimage has the Saudi Ministry of Finance clamoring to build the world’s largest hotel in the desert of Mecca, featuring 10,000 guest rooms, four helipads, and 12 tightly clustered towers on a 10-story plinth. Crowned at its summit by one of the largest domes in the world, the $3.6 billion mega-hotel has five off-limits floors earmarked for Saudi royalty, 70 restaurants, and an entire multi-function commercial space at its base for a shopping mall, food courts, a bus station, conference center and a lavishly appointed ballroom. Construction conglomerate Dar Al-Handasah designed the mammoth edifice to model a “traditional desert fortress,” sporting flourishes such as fluted pink pilasters framing arched blue-mirrored windows. The two towers within the dome will rise up 45 storeys above the Mecca desert, while two more towers will attain 35 floors, with the remaining eight towers at 30 storeys tall. London-based interior design firm Areen Hospitality has signed on to appoint the interior spaces in the palatial luxury typical of the region. While deep pockets are an unspoken mandate, guests can choose between four and five-star luxury accommodations. The hotel occupies a 646,000-square-foot site in the Manafi district, and is less than one mile south of the Grand Mosque, thronged by two million pilgrims per year and currently undergoing a $61 billion expansion to accommodate seven million worshippers by 2040. The world’s largest hotel by number of hotel rooms, soon to be dwarfed by the Abraj Kudai, is the MGM Grand Las Vegas at 6,198 guestrooms. The gargantuan construction, opening in 2017, is the latest in a spate of residential and commercial developments galvanized by rising tourism revenue, currently raking in more than $9.2 billion annually. An example is the Jabal Omar development along the western edge of Mecca, which will accommodate nearly 100,000 people in 26 luxury hotels, as well as a six-story prayer hall. “The city is turning into Meca-hattan” Irfan Al-Alawi, director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, told The Guardian. “Everything has been swept away to make way for the incessant march of luxury hotels, which are destroying the sanctity of the place and pricing normal pilgrims out.”

Jeddah hopes a high-design transit network by Norman Foster can transform the Saudi city into a transit capital

British design firm Foster + Partners recently inked a deal reportedly worth upwards of $80 million to master plan a city-wide public transportation network in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Currently, just 12 percent of the population resides within a 10-minute walk from a transportation hub, and just 1–2 percent of commuters use public transportation. But can high design lead to higher ridership? The new network will encourage pedestrianization with shaded streets in deference to the sweltering climate, while the ambitious transportation grid will introduce a 42-mile light rail metro system and public spaces at key locations below the elevated tracks. The grid will also build on the existing ferry, bus, and cycling networks, and this three-line network will operate from 22 stations. In addition, a sea transport network with 10 stations will be built along the Corniche to boost tourism. The overarching "architectural vision" by the British firm will address everything from station design to trains to branding, all the while with careful regard for the “high-density, compact urban model of Al Balad,” Foster + Partners wrote in a statement, referring to Jeddah's historic district. “Each station node will create a new neighborhood with a unique characteristic.” The Norman Foster–owned firm has set a goal for a 2020 completion date and 2022 opening. According to the Saudi Gazette, the new transportation network could reduce traffic by 30 percent within the next 20 years. Also on board for the project are architecture and engineering firm AECOM, which signed an 18-month contract in May 2014 to provide pre-program management consultancy services. Meanwhile, French railway engineering firm Systra was appointed in July to provide preliminary engineering designs.

Deep Underground, Researchers Testing Giant Elevators for the World’s Tallest Building

Where there are tall buildings there are also tall elevators. Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Tower, designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, will be the tallest building in the world if constructed as planned. The building is expected to stand 3,281 feet tall and will require elevators the likes of which the world has never seen. Luckily for the Kingdom Tower, one elevator company is researching the extremes of vertical circulation. The Finnish elevator company KONE has already begun construction of prototype elevators for the project, but these test lifts don't jut up into the sky. They drop deep beneath the earth’s surface. They company is currently testing and constructing their technologically advanced elevators in an abandoned 19th century mine shaft in South Finland. Since the site was chosen in 2008 as an ideal elevator testing ground, KONE has made progress in developing Ultrarope, a new piece of technology that will allow elevators to travel distances up to 1,000 meters: an unimaginable feat until now. Unlike most modern elevators which typically use steel cables, Ultrarope houses a carbon fiber core surrounded by a high-friction coat. The carbon fiber core is very light, reduces energy consumption noticeably, and decreases the weight of nearly all the major components operating the elevator. In addition to the markedly reduced energy consumption, this new cable material will last twice as long as regular steel lines and does not require frequent lubrication for maintenance. The Kingdom Tower will be filled with 65 elevators and escalators, each designed to maximize comfort and speed while also ensuring the safety of its occupants. KONE was previously tasked with designing the elevators for the third tallest building in the world, the Makkah Clock Royal Tower in Saudi Arabia. KONE Ultrarope (Courtesy KONE Online Bank)  

With Great Height Comes Greater Challenges: Questions Linger as Construction Begins on Massive Kingdom Tower

A kilometer is less than a mile but still more than a Burj Khalifa. This truism means that Kingdom Tower is still set to be the worlds tallest building now that construction has begun in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah. Though the initial projected height of a mile has since been whittled down to a mere kilometer, problems continue to beset the oft-delayed $1.2 billion project. Investors have pinpointed April 27th as a suitable commencement date. UK companies EC Harris and Mace will be overseeing the realization of a design by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, no strangers to the obscenely tall tower scene. Having recently completed work on The Shard, Mace would have to stack Renzo Piano's design upon itself three times in order to approach the projected height of the Kingdom Tower. Shockingly, building things this tall comes with its fair share of hardships. A company called Advanced Construction Technology Services has been brought aboard in order to develop a method of pumping concrete that would meet the demands of the project. Elevators should prove problematic as well. The weight of a typical elevator cable cannot be supported beyond 2,000 feet. Once this first of its kind elevator is created, its not clear how human passengers will respond to the unprecedented lengths of its journeys. In a recent story in Bloomberg, Gill conceded that it remains unclear how the inner ear would respond to the rapid changes in height it would undergo while traversing the Tower by lift. Potential stumbling blocks do not reside exclusively in the sky, but can be found beneath the ground as well. The structure's foundation will extend deep enough into the ground that it will meet the salty waters of the nearby Red Sea, meaning materials capable of surviving the encounter must be found. Economically the project rests squarely upon the shoulders of $20–30 billionaire Al-Waleed bin Talal, nephew to the country's King Abdulah and chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company.

Sou Fujimoto’s Outlook Tower is a Stacked Mirage in Saudi Arabia

Tokyo-based architect and creator of this year's Serpentine Pavilion, Sou Fujimoto, has recently unveiled his latest rendering of Outlook Tower and Water Plaza, a proposal that's part of his master plan development for the coastal resort district of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His proposed 473,612-square-foot structure is based on a vernacular type of Islamic architecture and mirrors the shape of Bedouin tents. Seen from afar, their silhouettes are designed to form the shape of a mirage-like gateway linking the mainland to the sea. Fujimoto’s idea was to create a tower that would represent the forest and its intricate web of natural elements. The numerous towers act as natural airstream barriers, as the strong winds, particularly coming from the north, are funneled vertically into the space below. This circulation of air provides a cool breeze and the south-facing facades bring in natural light into indoor spaces. The building includes eco-friendly elements such as solar panels installed on its roof to provide energy and natural heat and an integrated geothermal heat pump system to cool the building. By creating a space that bridges order and chaos, Fujimoto was able to generate a futuristic prototype comprised of arching modules stacked one on top of the other, each measuring between 10 to 40 feet. As a whole, the resulting organization creates a mesmerizing architectural spectacle. Multiple waterfalls are placed across the arches of the structure, feeding water into a large dock at the base of the tower. Fujimoto also included other elements that provide sources of natural light that altogether create a series of multiple transparent towers.  

Snøhetta to Design Metro Station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Snøhetta has been selected to design the Qasr Al Hukum Downtown Metro Station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which will operate as a transfer point between two metro lines and a bus network.  The Norwegian architecture firm's design covers the station with a large stainless steel bowl, distinguishing it from the metropolitan framework, providing shade, and conducting light deep underground with its reflective surface through a central oculus. At night, light from retail shops and the subway platform shimmers across the metal's surface. A garden occupies the center of the main pedestrian circulation area, which includes concourses and escalators that connect the lower platforms to the street. This oasis is an effort to convey the value of natural resources in the country’s desert environment. The station stands prominently above ground with distinct entrances at the center of the bowl and at the Eid Mosque to the southwest. These aspects are connected materially and spatially by palm trees and irrigation channels running toward Mecca. Zaha Hadid is also taking part in the Qasr Al Hukum Downtown Metro Station development and is designing the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) metro line. The Riyadh Public Transportation network is the world's largest urban transport program in development.