plans have been unveiled for a major new entertainment, sports, and arts district in saudi arabia.
masterplanned in conjunction with bjarke ingels group (BIG), the ambitious project is called ‘qiddiya’ and is currently under construction just 45 kilometers (28 miles) outside of riyadh, the country’s capital city. the masterplan offers visitors a range attractions, including a theme park and a potential formula 1 motor racing circuit. the 334 square kilometer (129 square miles) site envisions development covering only 30% of the land leaving the majority of the site for natural conservation.
the plans were unveiled by qiddiya investment company who hope that the project will become the kingdom of saudi arabia’s ‘capital of entertainment, sports and the arts’. it is also expected that the scheme will generate thousands of new jobs across a wide range of sectors. BIG’s masterplan responds to the region’s natural landscape, while creating a series of pedestrian- and bike-oriented routes that traverse the development.
the site is organized around a series of primary development nodes, which each serve a different purpose. the ‘resort core’ represents the heart of qiddiya where four gated-attractions surround a retail, dining, and entertainment precinct along with a selection of hotels. next door, an outdoor entertainment venue is capable of hosting events from 5,000 to 40,000 visitors siting as a park like setting and punctuated with active skating and skiing facilities.
the 2022 opening phase features a six flags amusement park filled with rides and attractions distributed throughout six themed lands. a second park is a water-oriented sports and entertainment attraction, while the third feature is the ‘speed park’ — a destination which brings together events and experiences from the world of motor sports in a venue that ‘places equal emphasis on spectator and driver’. the speed park includes tracks, showrooms, retail, a driver’s club, and a luxury hotel.
overlooking the resort core from a cliff-top perch, the ‘city centre’ is a mixed-use village dedicated to sports and the arts. coupled to the entertainment core below by a funicular transportation system, residential, retail, and workplace environments are organized around two intersecting pedestrian circulation spines. the city centre is home to a collection of sports venues including a 20,000 seat stadium, an 18,000 seat multi-purpose indoor arena, an aquatics center, and a sports hub capable of hosting a cross-section of individual sports activities and events. a 2,000 seat performing arts theater and a multiplex cinema is also included as part of the plan.
intended to be active 24 hours a day, the city also includes a creative campus with workspaces as well as media production and education facilities. a grand mosque anchors one end of the plan with a place for worship and community gathering, while retail, service, and dining options are delivered in a mixed use, high street setting with residences over shopfronts. a private school, a sports medicine hospital, and cliff-top villas complete the setting.
to the north west of the resort core sits the ‘eco zone’, a venue designed around a series of nature and wildlife encounters, a golf course, outdoor sporting adventures and unique hospitality offerings. the ‘motion zone’ to the south east of the resort core, will be home to events, experiences, residential and hospitality programming driven by the science and technology of people in motion. along with a ‘race resort’, where homes and club facilities provide access to a 15 kilometer (9.3 mile) performance driving course, facilities for both on-road and off-road driving experiences, driver education, and destination motor sports events will be constructed within a landscape surrounded by a mountainous backdrop.
finally, a golf and residential community sits near the center of the property. facilities here include an 18 hole championship golf course and club house, a resort hotel and spa, and equestrian facilities — all accessed from villas, townhomes, and private retreats. the project broke ground in april 2018 and phase one is set to open to the public in 2022.