Brief 

Foster + Partners has created another hotel for the ambitious Red Sea Project in Saudi Arabia. Southern Dunes will get electricity from a huge 1.2-gigawatt battery system and is designed to withstand the harsh conditions in the Arabian dunes.

 

Insight

Following news of its under-construction airport and Coral Bloom hotel, Foster + Partners has created yet another hotel to become part of the massive Red Sea Project desert development in Saudi Arabia. Named Southern Dunes, it will get electricity from the same 1.2-gigawatt battery system that will power Coral Bloom and is designed to withstand the harsh conditions in the Arabian dunes.

Southern Dunes will consist of 40 luxury villas spread across the sand, as well as a restaurant and some central hotel buildings. Further details are still fairly light at this stage, though the renders show the hotel villas topped by large timber roofs, with clusters of mushroom-shaped shading structures sheltering communal spaces. Many of the villas will have their own pools too.

Foster + Partners avoided using construction materials like concrete and stone as it felt lightweight materials like wood are better suited to the searing desert heat in that part of the world – though the firm doesn’t specify whether or not the villas are wholly made from timber.

“From our work previously in the desert, one of the most important things is to avoid using what we call high thermal mass materials,” says Gerard Evenden, Head of Studio at Foster + Partners. “If you use stone or concrete in the desert, the problem is that over time it heats up and it becomes a thermal mass. They radiate heat and they hold the heat.

 

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