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Foster + Partners wins luxury resort airport job

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Foster + Partners has won the design contract for a new ‘eco-friendly’ Red Sea airport serving a luxury resort in Saudi Arabia

The Red Sea airport, due to be completed in 2022, will be used by a million tourists a year using domestic and international flights.

The design will be informed by the natural beauty of the surrounding desert landscape and represent the vision of the wider Red Sea project, according to the client, the Red Sea Development Company.

The Red Sea project is billed as an ‘ultra-luxury tourism destination that will set new standards in sustainable development and position Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map.’

It is being developed over 28,000 km² of pristine land on Saudi Arabia’s west coast, including 90 islands and lagoons. Upon completion in 2030, the destination will deliver up to 8,000 hotel rooms across 22 islands and six inland sites.

The developer has insisted the airport would have ‘an eco-friendly and sustainable design’.

However Foster + Partners’ role in taking on another airport is likely to lead to questions about the firm’s environmental commitments. In August, France’s environment agency criticised plans for Marseille airport, which the practice is also working on. 

The AJ100 big-hitter was one of the founding signatories of the profession’s climate emergency Architects Declare manifesto in May 2019.

The practice said: ’The Red Sea Airport will run on 100 per cent renewable energy. We are in the early stages of design development and will continue to minimise the embodied carbon as the designs develops.’

We will continue to minimise the embodied carbon as the designs develops

In respect of the Marseille plans, a spokesperson said: ’France’s environment agency’s criticisms of Marseille Airport related to the lack of masterplan. Our terminal extension – built on the brownfield site – is being designed to the highest French sustainable standards, namely HQE Bâtiment Durable.’

Speaking about its Red Sea design, Gerard Evenden, head of Studio, Foster + Partners said it had been ’envisaged as a gateway to one of the most unique resorts in the world and an integral part of the visitor experience.’

He added: ’Inspired by the colours and textures of the desert landscape, the design seeks to create a calm and luxurious journey through the terminal and will become a transit hub for visitors coming in by both land and air.’

John Pagano, chief executive officer at the developer said: ‘Foster + Partners and their engineering subconsultant, WSP Global, have demonstrated their ability to deliver projects in line with world-class development and our sustainability standards.

’We look forward to collaborating with them to develop an innovative design that will enhance the visitor experience, meet our sustainability goals and enable us to deliver an airport for the future.’

The Red Sea Project development is expected to welcome its first guests by the end of 2022. In addition to the dedicated airport, the first phase of the development will include ‘up to fourteen hotels offering 3,000 hotel rooms across five islands and two inland sites’, as well as commercial, retail and leisure facilities. 

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Readers' comments (5)

  • The word 'sustainable' has now lost all credibility - as has 'Architects Declare', which cynical bandwagon-jumping statement should now be given a decent burial while all its signatories turn aside in acute embarrassment. Lovelock was right in concluding there is no hope of changing humanity's trajectory. Never mind, record turnover and partner profits, thousands of hours of unpaid overtime making this stuff possible... All that matters is the here and now, eh? Carry on chaps!

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  • I have just read the words ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘airport’ in the opening sentence! Please tell me that this is ironic and satirical journalism? It gets worse, as the ‘sustainable development’ creates an ‘ultra luxury’ resort in the desert for tourists to jet to...presumably you have to be a millionaire to enjoy this ‘ultra luxury’.

    This is not eco-friendly or sustainable. Please stop adding these adjectives to your business as usual proposals, as they are fooling nobody. We have yet to see Foster and Partners design a remotely sustainable building, and I seriously doubt they ever will. I really don’t think they are capable of it, as they have neither the will nor the expertise.

    I challenge this anachronistic practice to research the late Professor Ed Barlett’s work and gain an understanding of the power of the exponential. Also search out his laws of sustainability, to understand that adding the adjective ‘sustainable’ to their press releases does not make their buildings sustainable.

    We are doomed...goodbye!

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  • the same Foster + Partners who 'declared' a climate emergency less than 6 months ago? All hunky dory now? The paradox / hypocrisy of "Architects Declare" needs a bit of journalistic effort, AJ

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  • Call 911, Declare an Emergency, and then walk back into the blazing building with a Jerry Can to pour jetfuel on the fire.

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  • It's only financial common sense, Kelly...

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