Foster + Partners has won an international competition for a new luxury hotel and apartment complex located just outside the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Borrowing from traditional Arab architecture and the area’s mountainous terrain, the mixed-use development will take the form of a cluster of vertical building clusters, arranged in a stepped topography.

“Makkah is one of the most unique cities in the world,” said Luke Fox, Head of Studio and Senior Executive Partner, Foster + Partners. “As the home of the Holy Kaaba – the holiest site in Islam – it presents a special challenge and honour for any developer and architect. Our design sets out to create an innovative building form that will be respectful to the scale and importance of the Grand Mosque.”

Addressing the shortage of accommodation options for visitors to the mosque, the project will maximize the number of rooms with views out towards the Holy Kaaba. Interiors have been designed from the inside-out, with each room containing a dedicated space for private prayer and contemplation.

The hotel will be located on the axis between the new Haramain High-speed Rail Station and the Grand Mosque, becoming a new gateway for pilgrims as they complete their journey. Circulation through the building will manifest in a dramatic pedestrian ramp that will connect the complex’s naturally lit spaces. More info and photos