BIG designs new arts and entertainment Giga Project in Saudi Arabia
Plans have been revealed for a new development that certainly lives up to its "Giga-Project" marketing spiel. Named Qiddiya, the huge project's masterplan is designed, appropriately enough, by BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), and will measure an incredible 334 sq km (129 sq mi). It's envisioned as Saudi Arabia's new capital of entertainment, sports, and arts, and is expected to be completed by 2030.
Qiddiya will be located about 40 minutes drive from central Riyadh in a rugged desert landscape. According to BIG's masterplan, only around 30 percent of the land available will be initially developed, which is a still considerable 103 sq km (39.7 sq miles). To put the numbers into perspective, it's about the size of the entire Walt Disney World Florida plot and almost double the size of Manhattan.
The project will be split into five areas, with the Resort Core at its heart. This will include a 15 hectare (37 acre) retail, dining and entertainment precinct, several hotels, an outdoor entertainment venue, and Six Flags Qiddiya: a family-oriented theme park laid-out through six themed lands. Additionally, there will be a water-oriented sports and entertainment attraction, a Speed Park motor sports venue that the renders depict hosting Formula 1 racing, and more hotels.
Overlooking the Resort Core on an escarpment above will be what's dubbed the City Centre, a mixed-use area dedicated to sports and the arts that hosts a large theater, stadiums, sports centers, a sports medicine hospital, hiking and bike trails, as well as residential, retail, and work spaces.
Qiddiya's northwest area will host the Eco Zone, which will be a sizable space designed around nature and wildlife activities and a golf course, plus other outdoor sports. The southeast Motion Zone will be home to "events, experiences, residential and hospitality offerings that are driven by the science and technology of people in motion," and include on and off-road driving experiences.
Finally, the Golf and Residential Community will, as its name suggests, be centered around an 18 hole course and villas, townhouses, and private retreats, plus yet more hotels.
Qiddiya is such an ambitious project that potential problems and delays seem quite possible. That said, it broke ground in April 2018, and its first phase is set to open in 2022, with completion planned for 2030. Assuming all goes well, it's expected to host around 17 million visitors annually and employ 25,000 people. The Architect's Newspaper reports that some of the world's biggest architecture firms, such as Morphosis, HOK and Snøhetta, are vying to be involved too.
A Qiddiya representative told us that budget figures being widely reported are unsubstantiated and declined to confirm the actual expected cost of the project. Needless to say though, this one won't be cheap.