A Sleek, Solar-Powered Guggenheim for Saudi Arabia

All over the world, the Guggenheim Museums are known as much for their iconic architecture as they are for the artworks housed within them. These cultural landmarks include the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright; the museums in Bilbao, Spain, and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, designed by Frank Gehry; and the Guggenheim in Taiwan, designed by  Zaha Hadid. Now a unique design for the Guggenheim slated for Saudi Arabia, by Abdul Alharbi aims to integrate the future-forward city of Jeddah into that global cultural network.

The concept for the building (which comes to us via eVolo) seeks to blur the line between art and architecture. The organic, swirling shape of the building is reminiscent of those shapes produced by mixing water with ink — or, perhaps, those produced by the shifting sand dunes of the Arabian desert. By applying the techniques of architectural drawing to those swirling patterns, the building’s design translates organic shapes into actionable plans for a distinctively futuristic building.

Guggenheim, Jeddah

image via eVolo

Making use of the area’s abundant sunshine, the building’s roof was designed to incorporate flexible solar panels as well as ETFE, a durable polymer suitable to local environmental conditions. Alharbi’s building design consists of several separate volumes, creating a configuration that morphs into (and, from a distance, perhaps out of) the natural terrain.

The project is slated for the city of Jeddah, located on the Red Sea, an area positively cheek-to-jowl with futuristic green building projects right now. (These include Kingdom Tower, a planned green skyscraper, and a system of high-speed rail designed to get the faithful to Mecca using less carbon.) The Jeddah Guggenheim project aims to support dissemination of culture as well as the development of regional tourist capacities. The museum is part of a larger development plan, which seeks to link the neighboring Ubhor beach resort with the city of Dhahran.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.