Marine Life Institute forms oversized "coral reef" on the Red Sea coast
The incredibly ambitious Red Sea Project is part of an ongoing effort to transform Saudi Arabia into a world-leading tourist destination and has resulted in plans for luxury resorts and an airport. Now Foster + Partners has revealed work is underway on an eye-catching marine center that will be shaped like coral and feature interactive exhibits, including an artificial coral reef.
The project, named the Marine Life Institute, also involves HKS Architects and will be located on the Red Sea coast. Its exterior will be made up of glass-reinforced concrete panels that will be molded and textured to resemble local coral reef patterns, with a structural steel frame supporting it.
Unfortunately, there are no images of the interior available yet, but the building will be part-subterranean and spread over three floors. Exhibits will take visitors on an imagined journey through the Red Sea, through shallow mangroves and over sandy beaches, before culminating in a large manmade coral reef that has a length of 40 m (131 ft) and a depth of 10 m (32 ft).
Elsewhere will be researcher-led educational tours of on-site laboratories, as well as underwater tours of the seabed, both diving and using high-tech submersibles.
"We wanted to design a first-of-its-kind facility that extends far beyond any existing marine life attraction," said John Pagano, Group CEO of The Red Sea Development Company. "With 10 zones that provide everything from augmented-reality experiences to night diving, and spaces for the scientific community to effectively progress their environmental projects, the facility is undeniably unique."
The Marine Life Institute will feature extensive landscaping made up of hardy native plants. A water recycling system will also reduce water use, and both natural lighting and passive ventilation are a key focus to help keep energy usage to a minimum.
Construction work on the project is already well underway and the project is expected to be completed by 2024.