Large scale models of The Line and other developments at the controversial Neom project in Saudi Arabia are being presented at the Zero Gravity Urbanism exhibition during the Venice Architecture Biennale.
Curated by Ramon Part and produced by UK studio Squint/Opera and Italian studio We Exhibit, the exhibition lists architecture studios Adjaye Associates, BIG, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Delugan Meissl Associated Architects, Studio Fuksas, LAVA, Luca Dini Design and Architecture, Morphosis, Oyler Wu Collaborative, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, CHAP and UNStudio as contributors.
Set in an art gallery alongside Venice’s Grand Canal, the exhibition featured numerous large-scale models and audio-visual displays of the four regions of Neom that have been announced so far.
These include the 170-kilometre-long city named The Line, along with port city Oxagon, ski resort Trojena and island resort Sindalah.
The exhibition is arranged around a courtyard that was filled with a huge model of The Line, showing how it will stretch 170 kilometres across the northwest of Saudi Arabia.
Nearby galleries contain more detailed models of The Line created by studios including Italian practice Studio Fuksas and Austria practice Delugan Meissl Associated Architects.
The models show various sections of the structure, which is proposed to consist of two 500-metre-high, linear skyscrapers standing 200 metres apart. Many of the models show how these skyscrapers will be connected on multiple levels with various bridges.
From the exhibit, it was unclear whether the different models represent designs for alternative sections of the proposed 170-kilometre-long building or alternative proposals for the structure.
Alongside the large physical models, the exhibition contained smaller models showing details of The Line.
There were also numerous visualisations, videos and flythroughs showing various elements of the mega project.
While much of the exhibition was dedicated to The Line, which is Neom’s largest and best-known element, there was also a gallery dedicated to the other three regions that have been officially announced. This gallery contained large models and visualisations of Oxagon, Trojena and Sindalah.
In total, Neom will consist of 10 regions, but no details of the other six have been disclosed.
Announced last October, the Trojena ski resort is being masterplanned by LAVA with elements designed by studios including Zaha Hadid Architects, UNStudio, Mecanoo, Aedas and Bureau Proberts. A large model showed the mountaintop resort along with the planned artificial lake it will sit above.
Set to be built in the Sarwat Mountains, the 60-square-kilometre resort will offer year-round skiing and is set to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games.
Alongside Trojena there was an exhibit on Oxagon, which is an octagon-shaped city planned for the coast of Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea. Although it has not been officially announced, the exhibition stated that Danish studio BIG was masterplanning the port city.
The final exhibit in the gallery was focused on the Sindalah island resort, which is being designed by Italian superyacht and architecture studio Luca Dini Design and Architecture.
The exhibition also includes video interviews with many of those involved with the Neom project, including UNStudio co-founder Ben van Berkel, Fuksas co-founder Doriana Fuksas and Michael W Bischoff of US studio Pie Cobb Freed & Partners. There was also a video interview with French architect Jean Nouvel.
Nouvel and Doriana Fuksas will also take part in a series of talks presented at the space during the exhibition.
The talks program will also feature British architect Peter Cook, architect Kent Larson, Morphosis partner Eui-Sung Yi, British architect Indy Johar, AKT II founder Hanif Kara, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia founder Willy Muller, Charter Cities Institute founder Mark Lutter, economist Edward Glaeser and philosopher Benjamin Bratton.
Currently under development in Saudi Arabia, Neom is arguably the world’s largest and most controversial architecture project. We recently created a guide to explain the key details of mega project.
The project has been widely criticised on liveability and sustainability. Speaking to Dezeen urbanism experts expressed skepticism about whether its utopian vision is realistic.
The project has also been widely criticised for its human rights record. Human rights organisation ALQST recently reported that three members of the Huwaitat tribe, who are believed to have criticised displacements connected to Neom, have been sentenced to death. Early this month UN Human Rights Council experts “expressed alarm” over the imminent executions.
In an exclusive interview with Dezeen Amnesty International’s Peter Frankental said that architecture studios “benefiting” from alleged human rights violations at Neom.
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