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HRH Crown Prince launches gateway island designs

he visionary ‘Coral Bloom’ plan will protect and enhance Shurayrah Island’s pristine natural state

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HRH Crown Prince launches gateway island designs

His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince, Chairman of The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), has launched the Coral Bloom concept, which architectural firm Foster + Partners created, and designed to blend in with the island’s pristine natural environment.

TRSDC, the developer behind the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism project, has since shared the striking vision for its central hub island at the destination, Shurayrah.

“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,” said John Pagano, CEO of TRSDC.

“Shurayrah Island is the gateway to The Red Sea Project, so it must set 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,” he added.

Biodiversity considerations take centre stage, with the plan designed to avoid disruption of the island’s mangroves and other habitats, providing natural defences from erosion. In contrast, new habitats are created through landscaping to enhance the island’s natural state.

The proposal also outlines designs for the island’s 11 hotels, adapted to suit traveller expectations post-Covid-19 including more space, and immersed into the landscape to effectively form part of the sweeping dunes, allowing the island’s natural beauty to reign supreme.

The design sees pristine beaches created on the dolphin-shaped island along with a new lagoon. These enhancements will raise the land level, providing a defensive layer from the global threat of rising sea levels. Notably, the changes aim to preserve or enhance what already exists on the island, without damaging any habitats or natural shores.

Immersive hotel design

There will be 11 hotels on Shurayrah, which will be operated by some of the world’s most distinguished hotel brands. The island’s natural landscape will be used to dramatic effect with all hotels and villas nestled within the landscape. The absence of high-rise buildings will ensure the spectacular vistas remain uninhibited while creating a sense of mystery for guests as the island slowly reveals itself.

The hotel designs have also been responsive to the changing world, and traveller demands over the last 12 months. There will be no internal corridors, for example, in response to a growing demand for space and seclusion following the coronavirus pandemic. The resorts themselves 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.

Gerard Evenden, Head of Studio at Foster + Partners, said: “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. 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.”

Regenerative tourism

The Red Sea Development Company is committed to delivering a 30 per cent net conservation benefit by 2040. It creates 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 world’s most extensive battery storage system.

The destination’s master plan is informed by an extensive marine spatial planning exercise in line with this commitment and leaves 75 per cent of the project’s islands untouched. Shurayrah is one of only 22 islands selected for development.

The Red Sea Project has already passed significant milestones, and work is on track to welcome the first guests by the end of 2022 when the international airport and the first four hotels open. The remaining 12 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.

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