Foster + Partners has revealed its plans for a luxury hotel and serviced apartment scheme in Saudi Arabia. It won a competition set by Jabal Omar Development Project for the complex, in the heart of the Muslim world’s most sacred spot.

Luke Fox, head of studio and senior executive partner at the practice, said: “We are absolutely
delighted to have won the competition.

“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 honour 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.” The mixed-use development will form a new gateway along the route to the mosque for pilgrims from all over the world. Taking cues from the Kingdom’s traditional architecture, the development recreates the dense building clusters of old Arabia, creating a modern vernacular that is respectful of its sacred location, while its cascading vertical elements are in harmony with the area’s mountainous terrain. In a statement, Foster + Partners said the interior design had been developed “from the inside out” with the aim of offering an antidote to the bland, insipid style of many a modern hotel. Each guest room and flat will have a dedicated spot for private prayer that provides direct views of the Grand Mosque and Holy Kaaba, the main focal point for pilgrims.

Located on the axis between the sacred site and the new Haramain high-speed rail station, the scheme will also form a key part of the spiritual journey, with a streamlined pedestrian ramp leading people through ethereal naturally lit spaces. Fox added: “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. “On behalf of all the design team I would like to thank Jabal Omar Development Company for choosing to work with us. We are incredibly eager to begin work on the next stage and look forward to a successful collaboration.”