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KWY.studio’s Striking Minimalist Visitor Center Situated In The Saudi Arabian Desert

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Name
Project
Desert X Al Ula Visitor Centre
Photographer
Words

Lisbon-based multi-disciplinary creative practice KWY.studio has designed ‘Desert X Al Ula Visitor Centre’—a minimalist exhibition center situated in the ancient oasis of Al Ula, Saudi Arabia.

The unique landscapes of Al Ula encapsulate over two-hundred thousand years of history, with one of the historic location’s most sought-after destinations being Hegra—Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site containing over one hundred preserved tombs carved into the rock. Situated at the entrance to the Hidden Canyon, the visitor center welcomes visitors to Desert X Al Ula—a site-responsive exhibition bringing together artists from Saudi Arabia and the surrounding region. Within this vast desert landscape, the center offers a space for rest and contemplation, along with basic amenities, a cafe, shaded courtyard, and viewing deck. The precise, angular structure and minimalist white facade serve as a distinctive contrast to the ancient, organic shapes of the surrounding landscape. The innovative studio has thoughtfully designed the center so that its architecture only further highlights the extraordinary location. Constructed using local materials, the center is inspired by the archetypal walled-garden; a reference to the region’s architecture. The central courtyard, framed by a circular roof, offers unrivaled views of the pristine blue sky and striking rust-colored rock. Carefully placed windows in the low-lying structure open out onto the vast landscape, providing visitors with a direct connection to the landscape, reminding us of the sheer scale of the surrounding natural elements.

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All images © Colin Robertson