Extreme urbanism the proposal in Saudi Arabia: Controversy and Challenges faced by Socotec
Saudi Arabia is in the midst of its Vision 2030 plan, with the aim of diversifying its economy and reducing dependence on oil. As part of this plan, Gigaprojects are being implemented, large-scale projects that are generating controversy due to lack of public information as well as radical architectural proposals.
Socotec, with its extensive experience, has been collaborating in Saudi Arabia for years and is actively participating in some of these projects, contributing its knowledge to clarify and give more information about what is being developed.
Catalunya Radio's "Perspectiva" programme, dedicated to the world of architecture, had the opportunity to delve deeper into the subject by inviting Xavier Aguiló, International Managing of Socotec, to an interview conducted by Josep Lluís Blázquez.
During the interview, Aguiló provided information on the evolution of the projects and the start of the work in progress. In particular, Aguiló stressed the importance of starting from scratch, placing a strong emphasis on the creation of sustainable energy production to supply the cities and on both energy efficiency and the impact of the materials used in the construction of the buildings that will make up these cities.
All of this is framed within an overall, well-structured master plan that has the fundamental objective of developing the country in a completely new way and freeing it from its historical dependence on oil.
Climate challenges, sustainable investment and water management: Saudi Arabia in search of innovative solutions
One of the key challenges to consider when acting in the region is the current climate and long-term projections. Surprisingly, Xavier Aguiló mentions that the climatic conditions in the region are not so extreme compared to other places, which opens up the possibility of seeking people's comfort and redefining comfort standards through approaches adapted to intermediate zones.
In addition, this project also stands out for its life-cycle investment approach, known in engineering as "value engineering". Although it may involve a higher initial investment, it seeks to implement systems that promote greater efficiency and savings in the long term.
In relation to the water issue, Saudi Arabia finds itself in a situation that will soon spread to many other parts of the world. It is therefore considering strengthening its water supply through the use of optimised desalination plants to minimise waste generation and allow for a water cycle that facilitates recycling.
Regeneration: the goal of Saudi Arabia's construction industry
Saudi Arabia is pushing for a new construction industry based on the circular economy and the local transformation of raw materials. This would lead to regenerative projects with efficient, sustainable and waste-free buildings.
Leading experts, such as Lara Pellegrini and Xavier Aguiló of SOCOTEC, recently gathered at an architectural talk show at the Café de la Ópera to discuss the architectural challenges and needs of the cities of the future.
All agreed on the opportunity to participate in the creation of a utopia and transform the future of construction.