Saudi Arabia is about to see major development along the wadi vistas in the westernmost part of the country. The project being designed for The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) will be an expansive investment in driving tourism to the scenic and historic area.

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A lit-up structure built into a mountain.

Award-winning firm Oppenheim Architecture is behind the current installment called Desert Rock, which is part of the larger Red Sea Project that will eventually see 50 resorts, 8,000 hotel rooms and 1,000 residential houses. Desert Rock broke ground this past summer and is expected to open for visitors at the end of 2022.

Related: Mixed-use complex aims to minimize heat gain with greenery in Saudi Arabia

A lit-up structure built into a mountain.

Desert Rock is aptly named as it’s more than built from the ground up. It’s built into the side of a massive rock. While some might question the environmental aspects of renovating the natural structure, the company has stated sustainability is high on its list of priorities. The rock that is removed from the mountainside will be used as a building material for interior and exterior walls and floors. Additional stone will be ground and, along with existing sand, used as the main building material.

A lit-up structure built into a mountain.

Processes within the building will focus on energy-efficient design elements that minimize energy consumption and aim to achieve the highest level of LEED certification. In addition to passive design techniques and energy-efficient systems, the building will incorporate water reduction strategies through rainwater harvest and native plants in the surrounding area. 

A bright room with a high ceiling and glass wall.

Chad Oppenheim, founder of Oppenheim Architecture, said, “Desert Rock is one of the most dramatic desert landscapes in the world, which is why we wanted to use the architecture as a way to honor and respect it. By utilizing natural materials and integrating the resort into the rock, guests can connect physically with the destination and experience Saudi Arabia’s stunning, natural beauty.”

A sitting room in neutral tones with an off-white sofa.

Planners want to make the resort a cultural destination, hiring locals to educate visitors about the culture and history of the land. They also want to promote culture through art facilities. The outdoor and athletic opportunities include a spa and fitness center, remote dining, a lagoon, hiking, dune buggies and star gazing.

A sitting room in neutral tones.

Desert Rock is part of phase one of the project, which will include 16 hotels with a 2023 expected completion date. The destination will include luxury marinas, golf courses, entertainment, leisure facilities and an international airport. A 100-hectare landscape nursery that will provide an estimated 15 million plants to the resorts is up and running, while housing for 10,000 builders is complete and housing for an additional 14,000 workers is underway. 

+ Red Sea Development Company

Via Oppenheim Architecture

Images via Red Sea Development Company