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Fosters wins Mecca hotel complex competition

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Foster + Partners has won an international competition for a landmark hotel complex next to the Great Mosque in Mecca

The London studio defeated an undisclosed shortlist of rival firms to land the commission, which is backed by Saudi Arabian developer Jabal Omar.

The appointment comes nine years after Foster was invited, alongside Zaha Hadid Architects and 16 others, to consider options for an ambitious expansion of the world-famous mosque which surrounds Islam’s holiest place, the Kaaba.

The chosen expansion project, designed by Riyadh-based Alnaim Architects, is now on site and due to complete by 2020 – expanding the mosque’s capacity to 2.5 million.

Foster’s latest scheme, dubbed the Jabal Omar Development Project, will create a new mixed-use hotel and serviced apartments complex for pilgrims visiting the site.

Foster + Partners senior executive partner Luke Fox said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to have won the competition.

‘As the home of the Holy Kaaba, Mecca 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 building will be constructed on a key route for pilgrims between Mecca’s new Haramain High-speed Rail Station and the Grand Mosque. The complex will feature a ground-level pedestrian ramp featuring naturally lit spaces intended to enhance visitors’ arrival at the historic site.

Internally the building’s rooms and apartments have been designed to maximise and optimise views towards the Holy Kaaba. Each hotel suite will also contain a prayer space facing the religious landmark.

The design follows a philosophy of ‘luxury with humility’, with an understated elegance throughout

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.’

Zaha Hadid Architects won a competition for an 8,780m² cultural centre in historic Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, in October last year.

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