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jean nouvel to sculpt saudi arabian landscape to create subterranean resort and hotel

french architect jean nouvel has revealed plans for a subterranean resort and hotel that would be hidden within the rock dwellings of AlUla, a natural region of north-west saudi arabia. located deep within the sharaan nature reserve, the project references the nearby hegra — a famous archaeological location that forms the country’s first UNESCO world heritage site. set to be completed by 2024, the development will include 40 guest suites and three villas. meanwhile, a retreat summit center nearby will feature 14 private pavilions. the project was first announced in august 2019.

jean nouvel sharaan
all images and video courtesy of the royal commission for AlUla



titled ‘sharaan by jean nouvel’, the project seeks to preserve the region’s unique landscape and its ancient heritage. ‘AlUla is a museum,’ says jean nouvel. ‘every wadi and escarpment, every stretch of sand and rocky outline, every geological and archeological site deserves the greatest consideration. it’s vital we keep all its distinctiveness and conserve its attractiveness, which largely rests on its remote and occasionally archaic character. we have to safeguard a little mystery as well as the promise of discoveries to come.’

jean nouvel sharaan



inspired by the ancient nabatean people, jean nouvel sculpted the landscape to build a habitat that protects occupants from the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter. taking on a curatorial approach, nouvel has designed a range of spaces that immerse travelers in the landscape and its history. ‘our project should not jeopardize what humanity and time have consecrated,’ the architect continues. ‘our project is celebrating the nabateans spirit without caricaturing it. this creation genuinely becomes a cultural act.’

jean nouvel sharaan



the royal commission for AlUla (RCU), a body established to preserve and develop the region, says that the resort is a key element of its strategy to develop AlUla as a global destination for culture, heritage, and eco-tourism. ‘these concepts, which showcase jean nouvel’s masterly innovation in architecture, underscore our commitment to developing AlUla as a global tourism destination without compromising the history, heritage, and landscape of AlUla,’ says amr almadani, CEO of the RCU. see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here.

jean nouvel sharaan

jean nouvel to sculpt saudi arabian landscape to create subterranean resort and hotel








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