Mecca, the holiest city in Islam, is going to be redesigned, and a proposed master plan just leaked to YouTube.
Because of the extreme sensitivity of the project, details about the redesign have been sparse. Nonetheless, it seems destined to become one of the most high-profile architecture projects in a generation. Commissioned by the Saudi Royal Family, with an estimated budget of $13 billion, it would address massive overcrowding, which has led to thousands of trampling deaths during the yearly Hajj, which draws 1.7 million pilgrims.
News of the project broke last year, when several brand name architecture firms were approached about submitting ideas. True to the project’s secrecy, it’s never been clear if buildings had been commissioned or if the architects were hired for their ideas alone–which would then be watered down by another set of designers. Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid were approached about extending the Haram mosque, which surrounds the Black Stone. Neither have been able to comment on their designs, and neither has Atkins, which was tasked with a masterplan of the entire area. But you can’t hold back the Internet:
Related: Al Jazeera’s (Global) Mission From Issue 104 | April 2006