Foster + Partners win competition to design cascading hotel for Mecca's pilgrims

The design follows a philosophy of ‘luxury with humility’ with an understated elegance throughout the development
– Luke Fox, senior executive partner

Architecture studio Foster + Partners have been announced as the winner of a design competition for a new luxury hotel and serviced apartments in the heart of Mecca, Saudi Arabia – Islam’s most sacred city.

Over 3.7m people are estimated to travel to Mecca (known locally as Makkah) each year for the Hajj Islamic pilgrimage. The hotel project – overseen by the Jabal Omar Development Company – is a response to a rapid growth in visitor numbers, which has led to accommodation shortages in the city.

According to the architects, their winning design for the scheme will “create a new gateway” for pilgrims travelling along the route between Haramain Railway Station and the Grand Mosque.

The design concept is inspired by traditional Arab architecture, and reinterprets the city’s dense building clusters in a way that “creates a new contemporary vernacular that respects its sacred location.”

Formed of a series of cascading vertical elements of differing heights linked by a dramatic pedestrian ramp, the hotel will echo the region’s mountainous terrain. The orientation of all rooms and apartments will optimise views towards the Holy Kaaba – the holiest site in Islam – with prayer and contemplation rooms overlooking the landmark.

“Makkah is one of the most unique cities in the world, and as the home of the Holy Kaaba it presents a special challenge and honour for any developer and architect,” said senior executive partner Luke Fox. “Our design sets out to create an innovative building form that will be respectful to the scale and importance of the Grand Mosque.

“Our endeavour has been to make the experience special and appropriate to its unique location. The design follows a philosophy of ‘luxury with humility’ with an understated elegance throughout the development.”

Foster + Partners will now collaborate with Jabal Omar to finalise their design.

This is not the first project being developed to cater to the huge number of visitors travelling to Mecca. Last year, London studio Mossessian Architecture won an invited competition to design a museum of the Islamic faith there, which will explore the history and practice of Islam and the life of Muhammad, who is believed to have been born in the city.

Foster + Partners  Makkah  Grand Mosque  Holy Kaaba  architecture  design  Saudi Arabia  
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Winning design unveiled for Islamic faith museum in Mecca

Architecture studio Foster + Partners have been announced as the winner of a design competition for a new luxury hotel and serviced apartments in the heart of Mecca, Saudi Arabia – Islam’s most sacred city. Over 3.7m people are estimated to travel to Mecca (known locally as Makkah) each year for the Hajj Islamic pilgrimage. The hotel project – overseen by the Jabal Omar Development Company – is a response
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The design concept is inspired by traditional Arab architecture / Foster + Partners
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