UAE-based X-Architects has won a competition to design a new masterplan in Mecca, Saudi Arabia- the holiest city in the world for Muslims.
Visitors to Mecca who perform the religious Hajj ritual are expected to spend three nights in the valley of Mina, in one of the 100,000 temporary, air-conditioned tents.
“The rough terrain of the Mina valley, the lack of space and the strict (religious) regulations not to build permanent structures inside Hima Al Masheir (the holy ritual territories) makes it difficult to provide sufficient services and facilities to the pilgrims during their permanence in Mina,” explains a statement by the architects.
On the closest available site located adjacent to Hima Al Masheir, at the intersection of the most important pilgrimage routes, X-Architects proposed a dense, mixed-use development that provides accommodation, facilities, and services to the pilgrims during their stay in Mina.
“We proposed a complex network of pedestrian routes on different levels to enhance the movement during the “Nafrah”, the ritual of moving from Mina to Haram and vice versa,” the architects explained.
“The design allows for a smoother transition from Al Jamarat plaza to the existing pedestrian bridge and the future pedestrian tunnel.
“The surrounding roads have either been bridged or tunneled so as to strengthen the pedestrian tissue. This will solve the current situation of the constant crash between people and vehicles.”
The design is inspired by the surrounding mountains while the “urban form consists of staggered pixels of towers which react to various climatic conditions and provide a better view of the surrounding.
“The result is a smooth transition between different scales,” said the architects, adding that during the rest of the year, the active podium and the courtyards will become public spaces for the people of Mecca.
X-Architects worked alongside engineering consultants Buro Happold on the 821,000m2 masterplan.