A bold sightseeing tower rises from the horizon line which is formed by a park’s palm trees signalling the position of the Tourism Activation Centre at Yanbu’s coast. As visitors weave through the park, the centre begins to reveal itself through its landscape design, sculptural seating and architecture lead visitors to the tower and the nearby building entrance.
The sightseeing tower, 40m in height, features a lift and spiral staircase that elevates visitors to viewing platforms which afford panoramic views over the site and out to the Red Sea beyond.
Visitors can then enter the main buildings, containing the Visitor Centre Exhibition Spaces, Marina Area and Dive Centre.
The main building’s faceted façade sweeps forward and extends to demark differentthresholds. Visitors are greeted by a welcoming reception desk which then leads into the map room - a part-physical/part-digital interactive map of the local region which will showcase regional attractions, both on land and water.
The sumptuous, soft, sweeps of the interior contrast the rugged and protective exterior. The brightness of the unforgiving sun slowly dissipates as the cooler colours and temperature of the interior blend into a digital and immersive environment.
From the map room, visitors can choose to go directly to the café, gift shop and/ or visit the temporary / permanent exhibitions.
The three elements of the building wrap around a west facing courtyard – designed to capture the Red Sea’s enigmatic sunset. A deep canopy, which frames the sun setting over the horizon, shelters outdoor seating and links the exhibition area to the dive centre.
The Dive Centre is a Padi training academy and launch pad for more experienced divers. At the entrance, guests are greeted within a cylindrical space housing a reception and library. Beyond, are the rental equipment and fitting areas. At the upper level are teaching classrooms and offices.
Once provided with diving equipment, divers can enter a training pool like no other. The triple height space contains a fully compliant Padi-certified pool with depths at different plateaus catering for all levels of diver. The pool features a panoramic opening which forms a cinematic backdrop looking out to the Red Sea. These spaces are directly linked to outdoor shower area, the marina promenade and to diving boats. Popular sites include Seven Sisters, best-known for its hammerhead sharks- though tiger sharks and tuna are often seen around the walls of coral too - Abu Galawa, a paradise island surrounded by coral grottoes, sharks and schools of barracuda and the wreck of the SS Iona, now a beautiful living reef.
At the heart of the development is courtyard complete with it’s own ‘Red Sea Pearl’ centrepiece. The large sculpture refracts and reflects views around the site and acts as a great social media anchor. The landscape design ripples from the pearl to generate an informal amphitheatre.
At night, the sighting tower can act as a light beacon, casting projections onto the main building. Projections can cater for events ranging from cinema screenings to corporate branding; allowing the centre to promote, adapt and engage with its visitors.
Site Area: 5,600m2
Gross Floor Area: 5000m2
Above Ground: 2,600m2
Below Ground: 150m2
Building Height: 14m
Tower Height: 40m
Top of occupied floor: 7 m, 3 floors
Floors Above Ground: 2
Floors Below Ground: 0
Vehicle Parking: 200
Bicycle Parking: 50
Electrical Bike Parking: 25
Interior Design Area: 4000m2
Client: AWN Enterprises (Abdulrahman Albassam, Norah Altamimi, Stefano Luca Lopez
Project Management: Craft Group, SA (Orazio Moretti, Peter Landuyt & Badoor Alibrahim)
Architecture & Landscape: Baca Architects, London (Richard Coutts, Robert Pattison, Callum McLaughlin, Ralph Parker & Alexander de Caires)
Interior Concept: Wells International, UAE (Justin Wells, Lorna Meva Raza, Joey Goei-Jones)
Exhibition Concept: Kasa Collective, NY (Robert de Saint Phalle & John Kudos)
Quantity Surveyor: MAB Consulting, SA.