Desert Rocks . AlUla, Saudi Arabia. 2020
The territory of AlUla gathers a unique collection of landscapes. The inland desert plateau, the mountain ranges, and the wadi valleys, offer extreme geological conditions and diverse habitats that closely coexist. The architecture of the place is here defined by the environmental actions of wind, water, sand, land shifts, which have sculpted the landscape through centuries.
On this barely urbanized land, inhabiting its deep sandstone canyons, we develop Desert Rocks.
The project departs from identifying iconic rocks of AlUla and recognizing their value as places. From the Nabatean monument of Madain Saleh and the pre-Arabic inscriptions of Jabal Ikmah, to the many natural formations –like Elephant Rock, Arch Rock or Hand Rock–, the sculptural character and cultural meaning of these stony create strong attraction forces for both visitors and locals alike. In dance with these existing rocks, Desert Rocks introduce new destinations and energies in consonance with the ongoing efforts to develop the area.
BAZAAR - MARKETPLACE
Bazaar is a square, a market, a civic gathering space. Its central location seeks the intersection of people, goods and culture. This flexible space brings locals and visitors together, exposing them to the agricultural history of AlUla and other important traditions and visions.
MEMORY SPACE - MENHIR
Memory Space is a tower with a history museum at its base, a viewpoint situated at the crossroads between the two valleys, two axis. It becomes a symbolic element in the area that enables the contemplation and appreciation of the surrounding landscape, describing through its spaces and contents, its geological origin and evolution.
SPACE ROCK- VISITOR CENTER
Space Rock is a visitors center located in an area of high touristic interest, close to emblematic spots like the Elephant Rock. It will become a central spot to organize visits and itineraries, facilitate necessary services for visitors as well as provide information on the cultural, recreational and other popular activities in AlUla.
DUNE - ART CENTER
Dune is a center for contemporary arts and crafts that follows the undulating movements of the land where it sits and builds a meeting point for different itineraries related to nature and art.
Star Theater is a monumental stage merged with the canyon landscape and designed to hold outdoor art performances below the desert starry nights.
Art Rock introduces a monumental cultural space in the middle of the rocky landscape. It is a voided rock, a celebration of Art, where site-specific installations can coexist with a variety of events and exhibitions involving local and international voices. The uniqueness of the place and the architecture will inspire creativity and experimentation, enabling experiences that cannot be found elsewhere. At night, this Rock becomes a fallen Star, illuminating the ground.
THERMA - ART BATHS
Therma - Art Baths carves spaces in AlUla rocks and connects them by means of bridges. Conceived both as a place for social interaction and intimacy, it accommodates wellness programs that benefit from the massiveness of the architecture and the curated contrasts between light and dark.
Canyon Resort offers a hospitality program for art and nature lovers. It organizes domestic spaces linearly along one of the meandering canyons, using their steep stone walls as the guarantors of intimacy.
These new masses gravitate in balance, in the universe of AlUla, attracting each other. Each one is different, and is located in its own space, filling the interstices of the landscape. All of them together configure a new layer, superimposed on the land. From these new rocks, monumental, civic, hospitality and domestic spaces arise, integrating art, architecture and landscape, and connecting human needs with the essence of the place.