A full decade after first being appointed to handle the project, high-profile British firm Foster + Partners has finally completed work on a network of train stations in Saudi Arabia. Providing high-speed links between four cities, they are designed to keep visitors at a relatively comfortable temperature even during the scorching summer heat.

The 450 km (279 mile)-long Haramain High-Speed Rail system links Makkah, Madinah, Jeddah and KAEC (King Abdullah Economic City). The station building designs are inspired by the architectural traditions of the region, says the firm, and offer a shaded retreat, with very small openings allowing some light inside.

"Sustainability is an important theme that runs through the project," explains Foster + Partners. "The station buildings are designed based on principles of felt temperature reduction – from outside the station to the platform, the ambient temperatures get progressively lower without the need for mechanical cooling throughout. Inside the station, the temperature is maintained at 28˚C [82.4˚F] and the platforms have large fans and misting devices that help keep the area cool. Mashrabiyas enveloping the glazed facades also help reduce the interior temperatures, while allowing glimpses out of the station."

Though 28˚C may still sound rather hot to some, the region recorded temperatures of 55˚C (131˚F) last week.

The four stations in the Haramain High-Speed Rail system were constructed using a modular system, ensuring elements could be shared between them, simplifying and speeding up construction. Additionally, they are designed so that they can be expanded if demand increases in the future.

The stations are expected to serve around 60 million passengers per year at first, rising to up to 135 million passengers per year, with trains using the rail system reaching a maximum speed of 300 km/h (186 mph).

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