Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 12 October 2021 -- University students, non-profit organizations, and local experts are working on housing design projects to reimagine and reconceive what housing and neighborhoods could look like in Saudi Arabia.

The studies are being conducted through a series of workshops that engage participants in collaborative design processes resulting in new housing topologies and neighborhood designs in two selected sites: Jeddah and Al-Khobar.

The three-day October workshop was part of the 2021-2022 series organised by UN-Habitat and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Saudi Ministry of Municipal Rural Affairs and Housing (MoMRAH).

By engaging young people, women, non-profits and local design experts, the programme aims to ensure that the new designs are culturally appropriate, gender responsive, and truly reflect the desire of younger generations and the beneficiaries of developmental housing.

The new designs are expected to be integrated into Saudi Arabia’s Sustainable Housing Concept Plan and eventually be adopted for future development in Saudi cities.

UN-Habitat Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif congratulated the students for their design efforts at the workshop’s closing ceremony.

“This collaborative approach has meant that we are melding together both international and local expertise to ensure that the new concepts support both sustainable development and livable communities but that they are also culturally and contextually plausible,” the Executive Director said.

“We would also like to recognise and thank the local NGOs and private sector leaders who have served on an advisory role during this project, to ensure that we understand the local context and beneficiaries’ needs,” she added. 

Professor Mohammed H. Al-Turaiki, Rehabilitation and Sustainable Development consultant participating in the workshop said, “Among the most important outcomes of this workshop will be innovative and sustainable developmental housing models that are compatible with the Saudi environment and are intended to achieve the objectives of Housing Program and KSA Vision 2030.”

The workshop, he said, also contributed to empowering Saudi women and building national capacities in the field of architecture, urban planning and housing.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the most urbanized countries in the world with eight out of every ten people living in urban areas.

Rapid urbanization in the past several decades has resulted in unsustainable land consumption patterns, which is emblemized by high per capital land consumption, low-density residential development, and a high dependence on cars.

It increasingly becoming apparent that in order to accommodate anticipated future population growth, that these current development patterns need to be addressed through more sustainable urban planning and residential design that mitigates climate change impacts and environmental pollution, and at the same time, enhances quality of life as envisioned in Vision 2030 for current and future generations.