Jean Nouvel has unveiled plans for the Sharaan by Jean Nouvel resort, located at the Sharaan Nature Reserve in AlUla, Saudi Arabia. Due to be complete by 2024, Nouvel’s daring design draws inspiration from the nearby UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hegra, and aims to revive the 2,000-year-old Nabataean architecture.
Unprecedented for contextual architecture, Nouvel’s project juxtaposes landscape and history. The architect will shape the nature reserve’s untouched, rocky structures by working with their natural state, utilizing abstraction to sculpt the landscape itself. Fueled by a commitment of respecting the location’s heritage, the objective is to uphold history and simultaneously execute a completely modern design.
Nouvel’s renderings for the surreal project reveal a breathtaking desert scene where ideas of architecture and sculpture are intermingled with preexisting forms—like natural rock seamlessly melding into chic interiors, and chiseled stone ceilings that leave playful shadows on pools of water below. Due to stretch across 40 suites, three villas, and a retreat center with private spaces, the resort’s pristine natural details and thoughtful design create a harmonious experience where nature, architecture, and art become one.
“Our project should not jeopardize what humanity and time have consecrated,” said Nouvel, “Our project is celebrating the Nabateans spirit without caricaturing it. This creation genuinely becomes a cultural act.”
To minimize the impact on the natural world and honor the Nabataeans’s methods for interacting with their environment, Nouvel is looking to adapt old ways of life for today. To preserve the surrounding environment, the architect will execute these unique design choices in tandem with special attention to eco-conscious design. The plans include details like emission-free power sources and sustainability standards that align with the Royal Commission for AlUla’s (RCU) preservation charter, which was created with plans to responsibly develop the historic location into a hub for ecotourism.
“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,” said Amr AlMadani, CEO of RCU. “We are a destination built by artists. Sharaan by Jean Nouvel will build on that legacy to become a timeless landscape-architecture that will last forever—a gift to the world.”