Jean Nouvel integrates the way Nabateans interacted with their environment, both verticality and horizontality, to reconnect to the earth and build sustainable habitats, away from the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter. The new Jean Nouvel resort, set to be completed by 2024, will include 40 guest suites and three resort villas. A retreat summit centre near the resort will feature 14 private pavilions.
Our design principles will guide us as we explore new typologies that reconcile heritage alongside the subtle transformation of the existing architecture. — Jean Nouvel
The resort embraces the natural colours and materials of AlUla in luxury. Nouvel views this resort as an opportunity to bring to life a strong spatial, sensorial and emotional experience on the borders of nature, architecture and art – where the sound, musicality, harshness, tactility, power and complexity of nature are everywhere, from finely chopped stones on balconies to the singular granularity of each rock wall, all becomes an artwork in itself.
AlUla’s human history began more than 200,000 years ago, yet only recently has modern tourism begun to discover the depth and diversity of its experiences and attractions. Archaeologists from Saudi Arabia and around the world are rediscovering this cultural landscape as RCU supports the economic diversification, community empowerment and heritage preservation priorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 programme.
Located 1,100km from Riyadh in north-west Saudi Arabia, AlUla is a place of extraordinary natural and human heritage. The vast area, covering approximately 23,000 km², includes a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains and ancient cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years. The most well-known and recognised site in AlUla is Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A 52-hectare ancient city, Hegra was the principal southern city of the Nabataean Kingdom and is comprised of more than 100 well preserved tombs with elaborate facades cut into sandstone outcrops. Current research suggests Hegra was the most southern outpost of the Romans after conquering the Nabataeans in 106 CE.
In addition to Hegra, AlUla is home to a series of fascinating historical and archaeological sites such as: Ancient Dadan, the capital of the Dadan and Lihyan Kingdoms, which is considered one of the most developed 1st-millennium BCE cities of the Arabian Peninsula; thousands of ancient rock art sites and inscriptions; and Hijaz Railway stations.
Our project should not jeopardise what humanity and time have consecrated. It must celebrate the Nabateans designs and genius without caricaturing it. This act of creation becomes a true cultural act. — Jean Nouvel
This world-first in contextual architecture will take visitors on a vivid sensory and emotional journey through time, ushering in a new era in design where every future detail will tell a story of the landscape’s past. With the concepts taking a curatorial approach, architect Jean Nouvel celebrates AlUla as, “the coming together of a landscape and history; The history of past civilisations in an extraordinary landscape.”
Through immersive experiences in Sharaan’s wilderness, visitors will have personalised exposure to the hundreds of archaeological sites within AlUla. Yet, this level of luxury will not be at the cost of the natural landscape, as the new resort will draw on emission-free power and new standards in sustainability.