Designed by leading architect Foster + Partners, the Red Sea Marine Life Institute combines futuristic lab spaces with unmatched underwater expeditions
Riyadh: The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), the developer behind the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism projects, The Red Sea destination and AMAALA, has revealed design plans for its state-of-the-art Red Sea Marine Life Institute.
Created by world-class architectural design firm Foster + Partners, the institute will function as both a scientific research center and a tourist destination. It will accelerate conservation-driven research, while offering visitors truly multidimensional experiences that bridge educational exhibitions with adventure-filled excursions.
“We wanted to design a first-of-its-kind facility that extends far beyond any existing marine life attraction. With 10 zones that provide everything from augmented reality experiences to night diving, and spaces for the scientific community to effectively progress their environmental projects, the Red Sea Marine Life Institute is undeniably unique. Not only will it drive global green and blue innovations, it will also help put Saudi Arabia on the map for travelers seeking trips that enrich their lives,” said John Pagano, Group CEO of TRSDC.
“The institute will live in the Triple Bay marina at AMAALA, but is the beating heart of our broader ambitions to protect and enhance the thriving Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia. Through our expanding portfolio of projects we will share our valuable scientific discoveries with the world and enable our guests to experience the true beauty of our thriving coral reefs.”
Expected to host up to 650 people at any one time, guests will be able to walk underwater, snorkel with rare species, participate in lab tours and dive the depths of the Red Sea in a submarine. A testament to TRSDC’s coral farming operations, the facility will also be home to one of the world’s largest man-made reefs, measuring an astonishing 40 meters long and 10 meters deep and providing an epic “Grand Reveal” moment for visitors on arrival.
Integrating architecture with nature
Set within the AMAALA destination on the west coast of Saudi Arabia and located on the waterfront of Triple Bay, the 10,340 square meter institute will comprise three levels – one above ground and two below – and offer stunning panoramic views of the Red Sea and the marina.
Inspired by the Red Sea’s thriving coral formations, the glass-reinforced concrete that is being used to build the institute will be intricately molded to resemble reef patterns against the skyline. Inside, exhibition displays have also been integrated into the infrastructure, with visitors flanked by suspended semi-spherical tanks containing colorful local marine wildlife from the point of entry.
Gerard Evenden, Head of Studio at Foster + Partners, said: “The Red Sea Marine Life Institute will take guests on a vibrant, educational, and awe-inspiring journey that unveils the natural wonders of the Red Sea and blurs the boundaries between the institute and the ocean. By recreating natural marine habitats, offering unforgettable marine interactions, and sharing glimpses into conservation projects, it will provide guests with an immersive marine experience unlike any other.”
As part of TRSDC’s commitment to responsible development, more than 40 percent of the site will be covered by native plants, and a system to collect runoff water put in place to prevent erosion and pollution, while reducing mains water use.
The lighting throughout the institute has also been designed with the company’s green ambitions in mind, with an innovative framework to prevent light pollution to protect the nocturnal environment.
“More than just a window into the marine world, we’re creating an integrated experience that offers unique activities for our guests, with a collection of opportunities to explore and learn suited to all,” said Warren Baverstock, Senior Marine Life Director at TRSDC.
“The overlay of sustainable design, build and operations, guest experience and meaningful scientific work underpins our commitment to drive enhancement of the environment and tourism growth. It’s a perfect model of sustainability, balancing people, planet and commercial success,” added Pagano.
Site preparation works have already commenced with bulk earthworks now complete and 170,000 cubic meters of soil transported. Next TRSDC will commence piling and shoring ahead of excavating 12m below the surface water level for the institute’s Grand Reveal aquarium.
The Red Sea Marine Life Institute is part of phase one of AMAALA Triple Bay, which is set to welcome its first guests in 2024.
Phase one of AMAALA – Triple Bay – is well underway and will consist of eight resorts offering upwards of 1,200 hotel keys. Upon completion, the destination will be home to more than 3,000 hotel rooms across 25 hotels, and approximately 900 luxury residential villas, apartments and estate homes, alongside high-end retail establishments, fine dining, wellness and recreational facilities.
About The Red Sea Development Company
The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC – www.theredsea.sa) is a closed joint-stock company wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia. TRSDC was established to drive the development of The Red Sea Project, a luxury, regenerative tourism destination that will set new standards in sustainable development and position Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map.
The project is being developed over 28,000 km2 of pristine lands and waters along Saudi Arabia’s west coast and includes a vast archipelago of more than 90 pristine islands. The destination also features sweeping desert dunes, mountain canyons, dormant volcanoes, and ancient cultural and heritage sites. It is designed to include hotels, residential properties, leisure, commercial and entertainment amenities, as well as supporting infrastructure that emphasizes renewable energy and water conservation and re-use, as well as a circular waste management system to achieve zero waste to landfill.
Activity for the first phase of development is well underway and is on track to be completed by the end of 2023. The project has surpassed significant milestones, with over 1000 contracts signed to date, worth in excess SAR 25 bn ($6.6bn).
The 100-hectare Landscape Nursery, which will provide more than 25 million plants for The Red Sea Project and AMAALA, is now fully operational. There are more than 20,000 workers currently on-site and 90km of new roads are now complete. The Construction Village and the Waste Management Centre are both fully operational and development is progressing well at the Coastal Village, which will be home to around 14,000 people who will eventually work at the destination.
Set in the Prince Mohammad bin Salman Natural Reserve along Saudi Arabia’s northwestern coast and spanning 4,155 sq. km, the year-round destination features a pristine landscape and diverse natural ecosystems, coupled with a unique and intriguing heritage and local culture.
Designed to evolve and elevate the very best in travel, AMAALA is an ultra-luxury destination and the first global integrated family wellness destination, set to curate transformative personal journeys inspired by arts, wellness, and the purity of the Red Sea. State-of-the-art facilities and an attractive year-long events calendar will ensure AMAALA is a distinctive wellness destination worldwide.
Phase One of Triple Bay is well underway and set to be complete in 2024. It will consist of eight resorts offering upwards of 1,200 hotel keys. Over 300 contracts have been awarded to date worth in excess of 6.6 billion riyals.
Once complete, AMAALA will be home to more than 3,000 hotel rooms across 25 hotels, and approximately 900 luxury residential villas, apartments, and estate homes, alongside high-end retail establishments, fine dining, wellness, and recreational facilities.
Sustainability is a cornerstone of AMAALA, which will be powered by 100% renewable energy for which the resulting saving in CO2 emissions to the atmosphere is equivalent to nearly half a million tons each year. The destination will operate with a zero-carbon footprint once fully operational. A Public Investment Fund company and a key contributor to Vision 2030, AMAALA will establish new standards in luxury and wellness.