Solitaire is set to be Riyadh’s newest multi-use lifestyle destination and will consist of three aboveground levels of retail, food and beverage, entertainment, wellness and sport offerings and three levels of basement parking. Here, RLI sits down with Mishary bin Dayel, Executive Director of Al Marqab Investment Company, the owner of Solitaire to discuss this landmark scheme and what it will offer consumers.
Visualise a geode. The outside, a rough stone exterior; an unassuming protector of the secret it hides inside.
Its façade tells the story of its environment, the desert climate, the elements braved. Over time, it weathers, erodes and eventually fractures, revealing the sparkling beauty of its hidden, jewelled interior. This is Solitaire.
Within the city of Riyadh, Solitaire occupies a 60,000sq m area bordered by King Abdulaziz Rd, Al Imam Saud Ibn Faisal Road and Al Thumamah Road. Directly opposite is the Kingdom Hospital and views to the south reveal the prestigious King Abdullah Financial District, affirming this prime location within the city. The North Ring Road is just 2km away, making the asset easily accessible from Riyadh’s outer suburbs.
“The direct catchment area for Solitaire is comprised of zoned residential compounds, with the exclusive Kingdom City compound being closest in proximity. The immediate surrounding area is home to both KSA nationals and Western expat high net-worth individuals and middle-aged high earning professionals,” explains Mishary bin Dayel, Executive Director of Al Marqab Investment Company.
“As a multi-use lifestyle destination, Solitaire’s focus is on providing a unique, 360° lifestyle offering encompassing the key areas of retail, dining, entertainment, wellness and sport.”
Majestic wind towers mark the northern and southern points of the asset, serving as iconic landmarks you will see long before arriving at the destination. The wind towers will serve a dual role, providing the essential, functional task of climate control for the boulevard, with their majestic height firmly marking Solitaire’s place in Riyadh’s skyline as a destination of note. They will also double as backdrops onto which creative digital shows will be projected, making the perfect background for memorable selfie opportunities.
Intrinsically designed around the concept of the geode, the angular stone exterior evolves and softens as you move inward through contrasting layers towards its centre. From the concrete-clad outer, different structural materials represent the notions of the layers of rock, fracturing and falling away as you move deeper into Solitaire, eventually revealing a jewelled, crystalline core. Lighting has been used as a visual language throughout, varying in intensity and colour as you move through the two main plazas within the asset.
A unique feature of the development will be its commitment to sustainable cooling via a series of wind towers. Within the towers, mechanical fan systems will help to maintain amenable temperatures throughout the site’s internal zones. The job of these fans will be to move rather than chill the air, producing a sustainable alternative to standard, energy intensive air conditioning.
“The aim is to create a comfortable environment via passive cooling technology. And as visitors move from internal zones to external areas open to the climate, forced air systems will ensure they remain protected from the desert heat,” explains the Executive Director.
“In addition, enticing water features will create a calming look and feel, while also contributing to cooling with their fine mist. The mist will initially feed the ambient humidity and then provide a natural cooling effect as mist-layered objects dry. Overall, the waterfall and stream features will form a key element of the high-quality public realm and respite areas which are the heart and soul of Solitaire.”
A focus on recycled water will ensure the project does not have any detrimental impact on an already water-stressed region. Across all water features and plant irrigation schemes, grey water usage will balance out water requirements in the site’s F&B units, drawing on Riyadh’s civic water recycling system. In addition, the selection of specific drought-tolerant plant species, such as acacia and frangipani, will help to reduce the overall irrigation load.
During the design of Solitaire, sustainability and sense of place – both vital ambitions for the project – have become inextricably linked. Aiming to create a rich garden aesthetic, the greening of the project site not only helps to manage challenging climatic conditions, but creates a totally unique destination. Across the north and south plazas and second floor, an immersive, verdant experience is designed to inspire and delight – shaping a drama of green space and a radical new landscape for the people of Riyadh.
The NORTH PLAZA is the more youthful, energetic aspect of Solitaire; home to fast-moving fashion brands, casual dining, cafes and the fresh food market. The wind tower in the North Plaza not only serves functionally as climate control, but dynamically as a backdrop where light shows will be projected. This stand-out, adaptive centrepiece is set to captivate and entertain audiences, featuring both daily and seasonal shows.
Crossing over to the SOUTH PLAZA, the lighting and structural façades become more crystalline and opulent. The exterior of the south wind tower will be activated as a water feature with light shows projected onto the water, creating a different medium for entertainment. Visitors to the South Plaza are elevated to VIP levels of fine dining, luxury fashion brands and the spectacular Jewellery Quarter.
Hyper-geometric in design and fabricated in a faceted, jewel-like inner skin, the Jewellery Quarter has been crafted to emulate the internal face of the geode. Here visitors are taken to VIP levels of luxury and glamour, a truly opulent expression of modern, architectural design.
“To move between the south and north plazas, there are two distinct boulevards. Both an impressive 300m in length, the first – known as ‘Fashion Street’ – is an internal boulevard bordering a length of exclusive fashion retail stores. This indoor boulevard will have an outdoor feel via the use of green landscaping and sky lights.
The second boulevard – which is in fact, outdoors – comprises an open-air walkway, featuring a retractable overhead canopy to provide shade and cooling. Again, this space is populated with areas of lush landscaping, creating a comfortable, calming area for visitors.”
“Solitaire’s first floor will be home to both retail and mixed-use areas for visitors to meet, shop and dine and the second floor with its cinema, family entertainment area and rooftop garden, accommodates a slower pace to gather, connect and linger at this unique destination,” Mishary bin Dayel concludes.