Two new AlUla museums to be designed by Lina Ghotmeh and Asif Khan in Saudi Arabia

Architects Lina Ghotmeh and Asif Khan are to design two AlUla museums in Saudi Arabia, as announced during the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023

Sky view of the oasis in saudi arabia where two new AlUla museums are being planned
An overview of the wider area and the AlUla Oasis
(Image credit: Image courtesy of Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU))

Two new AlUla museums are set to be built, it was revealed during the opening of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023. Paris-based architect Lina Ghotmeh and London-based architect Asif Khan will design, respectively, a contemporary art museum, and the museum of the Incense Road, which will be located in the historic destination in north-west Arabia. 

AlUla Oasis landscape

The verdant AlUla Oasis landscape 

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU))

The team behind the two new AlUla museums

While designs for the two AlUla museums have not been revealed yet, anticipation runs high as both architects lead highly sought-after studios, with key projects in progress at the moment. Ghotmeh is the creative behind the upcoming Serpentine Pavilion for 2023 and just completed Hermès’ Maroquinerie de Louviers, while Khan is busy working on the Barbican Art Centre Renewal, as well as the new London Museum. 

‘The architecture of the contemporary art museum in AlUla immerses visitors in a creative journey from the desert expanse to the lush cultural oasis of AlUla, interweaving the natural environment, agriculture and art to reveal the heart of contemporary culture. Through a series of garden pavilions, the museum presents a constant interplay between art and nature, capturing the essence of this unique place. The galleries offer surprising and anchored perspectives on the many facets of AlUla, from the microclimates of the oasis to the expanse of the desert, evoking a deep sense of attachment to the land and its heritage,' said Ghotmeh. 

Lina Ghotmeh and Asif Khan, courtesy Royal Commission for AlUla, photo by Luke Walker

Lina Ghotmeh and Asif Khan, courtesy Royal Commission for AlUla

(Image credit: Luke Walker)

Khan added: 'AlUla resonated with me deeply as did the local community members I met. The design takes the form of a public space, not a museum within walls, situated in AlJadidah village with galleries and spaces for sensory experiences and learning. The mountains are a constant background, whose sand dunes reach down to greet the edges of the museum, while stepped terraces of gardens act as a new interface between the village and the oasis. I am excited about how the museum of the Incense Road can be brought into the collective memory of the world, and become a transformative asset for the local community.' 

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).