the red sea project, a luxury tourism destination in saudi arabia, has revealed plans for its main hub island at the destination — shurayrah. known as the ‘coral bloom’ concept, the scheme was designed by foster + partners to blend in with, and protect, the island’s pristine natural environment. biodiversity considerations take center stage, with the plan designed to avoid disruption of the island’s mangroves and other habitats, providing natural defenses from erosion, while new habitats are created through landscaping to enhance the island’s natural state.

foster partners coral bloom
all images and video courtesy of the red sea development company



the proposal, which was presented by the red sea development company (TRSDC), also outlines designs for the island’s 11 hotels, adapted to suit traveler expectations post-pandemic, including more space, and immersed into the landscape to effectively form part of the sweeping dunes. foster + partners’ design also sees new beaches created on the dolphin-shaped island along with a new lagoon. these enhancements will contribute to raising the level of the land, providing a defensive layer from rising sea levels. importantly, the changes aim to preserve or enhance what already exists on the island, without damaging any habitats or natural shores.

foster partners coral bloom



‘our vision for shurayrah is inspired by the island’s natural state, with the hotels designed to give the impression that they have washed up on the beaches and nestled among the dunes almost like driftwood,’ explains gerard evenden, head of studio at foster + partners. ‘the materials we use and the low impact they have ensures that the pristine environment is protected, while the additions we make to the island serve to enhance what is already there — hence the name, coral bloom.’

foster partners coral bloom



in total, there will be 11 hotels on shurayrah with the island’s natural landscape used to conceal the buildings within the landscape. meanwhile, the absence of high-rise structures will ensure that views remain uninhibited. the resorts will be created using lightweight materials with a low thermal mass and manufactured offsite, meaning more energy efficient construction and less impact on the environment. the development is creating the world’s largest district cooling plant powered by renewable energy 24 hours a day to facilitate efficient centralized cooling across the destination. the entire destination will be powered by renewables, underpinned by the largest battery storage system in the world.

foster partners coral bloom



‘we expect guests to be awed by what they see when they first arrive at the red sea project, enjoying a truly immersive barefoot luxury experience. the coral bloom designs, taking inspiration from the incredible flora and fauna found uniquely in saudi arabia, promise to make that vision a reality,’ says john pagano, CEO of TRSDC. ‘shurayrah island is the gateway to the red sea project so it’s important that it sets the standard in groundbreaking architecture and sustainable design, not just for our destination, but globally too. this is achieved by going beyond simply protecting the environment, to applying a regenerative approach.’

foster + partners plans 'coral bloom' resort as part of saudi arabia's red sea project



the red sea project is on track to welcome its first guests by the end of 2022, when the international airport and the first four hotels will open. the remaining hotels planned in phase one will open in 2023. upon completion in 2030, the red sea project will comprise 50 resorts, offering up to 8,000 hotel rooms and around 1,300 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites. the destination will also include luxury marinas, golf courses, entertainment and leisure facilities. see designboom’s previous coverage of the ambitious project here.



project info:


name: coral bloom
location: saudi arabia
architect: foster + partners
project: the red sea project