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Foster + Partners unveils plans for another Saudi airport

Foster + Partners' Amaala International Airport proposals

Foster + Partners has revealed concept designs for yet another international airport in Saudi Arabia

The London-based practice, which has studios in the United Arab Emirates and across the world, described its proposals for the terminal and control tower serving the under-construction Amaala luxury resort as ‘akin to a private members’ club’.

Last year the practice, one of the founding signatories of the profession’s climate emergency Architects Declare manifesto, won the design contract for a separate airport serving another luxury resort in Saudi Arabia, known as the Red Sea Project.

This latest news will raise more questions about whether the AJ100 top-ranked firm is meeting its carbon reduction pledges, in particular its commitment under the Architects Declare banner to ‘evaluate all new projects against the aspiration to contribute positively to mitigating climate breakdown’.

Responding to Foster + Partners’ selection for the earlier Red Sea Project airport, one commentator said the Architects Declare movement had ‘lost all credibility’.

Sustainability expert and consultant Simon Sturgis this week said: ’These sort of projects suggest that Foster + Partners is still engaged with 20th rather than 21st century thinking.

’This represents a climate betrayal. Global practices such as Foster + Partners, if they were to project Architects Declare principles, could be enormously influential in combating climate change.’

Fellow consultant Robert Franklin added: ’Architects Declare, from its title down, was a calculated, cynical insult to anyone who understands the least nuanced interpretation of sustainable, and should now be quietly ignored.’

The high-end Amaala destination is currently being built on a sprawling 415,000ha site along Saudi Arabia’s north-west coast. The resort’s airport, masterplanned by engineering consultancy Egis, could be used by 1 million passengers a year after opening – which is currently scheduled for 2023.

Fosters’ terminal structure is said to be inspired by ‘a desert mirage’. Climate-controlled hangars will be available for private jets and a ground transfer service will be accessible from inside the arrival hangar.

Explaining its design, Foster + Partners senior executive partner Gerard Evenden said: ‘Responding to the surrounding landscape, the terminal building will form an exclusive gateway to the Amaala resort.

‘The passenger experience through the entire building will be akin to a private members’ club – luxurious and relaxing. Focusing on the themes of art, wellbeing and sport, the design seeks to establish a new model for private terminals that provides a seamless experience from resort to aeroplane.’

Amaala chief executive Nicholas Naples added: ‘Visitors will be greeted by personalised experiences from the moment they step off the plane. From design to personalisation, this will be no ordinary airport.

‘Immersed in the spirit of Amaala, the airport will create an environment that embodies the philosophy of the destination beyond. This will be a unique space that personifies luxury and marks the start of memorable experiences for the world’s most discerning guests.’

HKS Architects was earlier this year appointed to masterplan two of the three communities that will make up the Amaala reosort – Triple Bay and The Coastal Development. Denniston was named to oversee design of The Island.

Foster + Partners has been contacted for comment on its latest airport project and how it meets its Architects Declare commitments.

Foster + Partners' Amaala International Airport proposals

Foster + Partners’ Amaala International Airport proposals

Foster + Partners’ Amaala International Airport proposals

In 2018 practice founder Norman Foster temporarily stepped back from a role on the board overseeing the planning of the $500 billion Neom mega-city in Saudi Arabia after the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.


Readers' comments (3)

  • The terminal design has the unfortunate appearance of threatening to slice up anything that gets in the way - and what of any people living in the area of this 'private members' club......for the world's most discerning guests' - are there none, or are they being decanted - and, if so, are they being treated as expendable, so to speak?

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  • Do all successful architects follow the money and forget the ethics?

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  • A further point - unless this is to be the exclusive preserve of yet-to-be-developed electric airliners, the whole idea of another airport serving another new 'high end' leisure destination in this era of man-made climate damage is not just irresponsible, it's criminal.
    Foster the Barbarian.

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