Foster + Partners are set to build another major project in the Gulf. The firm just announced that they won the Jabal Omar Development Project competition to build a luxury hotel and service apartments in Makkah (commonly known as Mecca), Saudi Arabia.
Because Makkah is the holiest city in the religion of Islam, the project must, according to the brief, respect the sacredness of its location, which is close to the Kaaba. Every year, the city triples in size as Muslims from around the world make the hajj, or holy pilgrimage to the city. The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. In recent years, luxury accommodations like the new Foster + Partners project have, controversially, sprung up around the city to accommodate this influx of visitors.
“We are absolutely delighted to have won the competition,” states Luke Fox, Head of Studio and Senior Executive Partner at Foster + Partners. “Makkah is one of the most unique cities in the world. As the home of the Holy Kaaba—the holiest site in Islam—it presents a special challenge and honor for any developer and architect. Our design sets out to create an innovative building form that will be respectful to the scale and importance of the Grand Mosque.
According to a press release, the project occupies a large portion of the site. All rooms and apartments are oriented to maximize views of the Kaaba. “Generate from the inside-out, its interiors design is an antidote to the lack of identity that typical generic hotel rooms suffer room,” the firm states. Each room will have a dedicated space for prayer.