We appointed acclaimed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma & Associates to design around 100 overwater and inland villas on one of the three Ummahat AlShaykh Islands in The Red Sea Project’s archipelago. In addition they will design two specialty restaurants, one on land and one over water, a community building, spa, reception pavilion, housekeeping villas and a guest jetty.
Kengo Kuma, founder of the company and professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Tokyo, elaborates on the inspiration behind their designs.
"This is a resort which seeks to embrace the natural setting and rich cultural history of the region. The design for our assets was inspired by the beautifully natural occurring elements of the island.
"The relatively flat terrain of the island suggested a design that works with low, horizontal volumes and that we should look to gently curve the roof of the buildings to find a harmonious relationship with the ground, with roofs emerging from the ground.
“The villas that will be built on the islands were designed to emulate sand dunes, while the overwater ‘coral villas’ have a spiraled form that provides 360-degree views of the surrounding sea. The landscape which surrounds the dune villas compliments this architectural language and frames the buildings with artificial sand dunes and locally sourced vegetation.
"The best location for the water buildings was chosen through accurate bathymetry investigation, biodiversity studies and marine engineering studies in an attempt to prevent any damage to the coral reef and avoid interfering with the sea currents.
"When choosing materials for the project, The Red Sea Development Company had instructed us to avoid the use of concrete as much as possible in order to set new standards at the destination site. The remote and pristine site suggested the use of prefabrication systems. We are using a mix of volumetric and panelized prefabrication."
Kenga Kuma & Associates will use salt-resistant Accoya wood, suitable for the saline-high environment, and clay plaster for its designs.