Designs Revealed for Nature-Integrated Resort


Miami-based Oppenheim Architecture and Saudi developers The Red Sea Development Company have recently revealed designs for a mountain resort in the wadi vistas of western Saudi Arabia.

The project, dubbed “Desert Rock,” launched construction in July 2021 and will eventually comprise of 50 resorts in the area, totaling up to 8,000 hotel rooms and 1,000 residential properties.

“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,” said Chad Oppenheim, Founder of Oppenheim Architecture.

“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.”

About Desert Rock

According to reports, the team’s approach to the resort’s design was to “integrate architecture with nature.” To achieve a destination location that blends into its surroundings, designers integrated all current 48 villas and 12 hotel rooms within the mountain range to preserve the rocks’ striking forms.

As an additional measure to minimize sound and light pollution, the team made the resort accessible by roads placed towards the edge of the main trench and hidden behind landscape mounds as to not disrupt any panoramic views of the landscape.

“We wanted to create a destination that allows guests to experience Saudia Arabia’s untouched beauty,” said John Pagano of Red Sea Development Company. “Desert Rock will provide guests with uninterrupted spectacular views while preserving the natural landscape for future generations to enjoy.”

While the resort plans to offer many nature-inspired features and breath-taking views of the mountain range, the project is also slated to meet the highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification level with a design that reduces energy consumption and regenerates native greenery.

To achieve LEED certifications, the resort plans to incorporate various water retention, harvesting and distribution systems. Local materials excavated from the construction site are also slated to be reused in the site’s infrastructure. Reports indicate that the main building’s material will be ground stone and sand mixed to create concrete aggregate, and the interior and exterior walls and floors will be made of local stone.

In addition to the nature-inspired and integrated architecture, the resort will also feature a spa, fitness center, remote destination dining areas, a lagoon oasis, marinas, golf courses, leisure facilities and an international airport.

Although construction efforts officially launched last summer, the project isn’t expected to complete the first 16 hotels until 2023 and intends to continue building through 2030 in order to complete all 50 resorts on the 22-island property.

Despite the timeline, the team is aiming to invite its first guests before the end of 2022.

Similar Projects

Some years ago, in 2019, New York City-based architecture firm REX had released the final design for its mirrored Necklace Residence project.

The 43,000-square-foot structure is to accommodate five private family homes—one for the husband and wife who dreamed of building the family-oriented residence, and individual residences for their four children and possible future families­.

The idea of a domestic residence’s program quickly fell into an organized necklace theme, where the five homes could be enjoyed separately and as one entity. In creating the circular flow, the architecture team and various consultants joined the five homes, which shared two pavilions: an event space and an entertainment area.

An additional second and third tier was also added below the main level, which includes a garage, gym, home cinema, indoor swimming pool, staff area, spa and a wine cellar. In providing these home amenities, the four children’s future homes were also created based upon possible needs and separately designed based on archetypal American houses.

In order to address the task of making the structure appear natural to the future location, decisions were made to have views outward to the Long Island Sound from a high plateau on one side, and that the other half of the structure be consumed within dense old-growth forest, extending horizontally, ultimately creating a treehouse-like effect over a drop-off area.

In combining this residential “Holy Grail” of versatile landscapes, the exterior of the home is wrapped in mirrored glass, causing the structure to essentially disappear into the site.


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Color + Design; Color + Design; Commercial / Architectural; Design; Design - Commercial; Design build; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); EU; Hotels; Landscape architects; LEED; Program/Project Management

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