Al-Mu’azzam Fort, Saudi Arabia: Conservation and Adaptation Design

ARCHiNOS was invited by the renowned Saudi company Isam Kabbani & Partners (IKK) to team up in producing Historical Impact Assessment and Structural Survey of al-Mu’azzam Fort, with the IKK dealing with the engineering component of the work, and ARCHiNOS with the conservation and adaptation issues.

The fort was built in 1622 as part of the chain of fortifications erected by the Ottoman Sultans to protect the route of hajj pilgrimage caravans between Damascus and Mecca, and it guarded a massive water reservoir of a much earlier date. The Saudi authorities plan to develop the northern region, rich in historic heritage, as a major destination for cultural tourism. This includes a plan for conservation and adaptation of al-Mu’azzam fort, which is an important and expertly built example of Ottoman military architecture, but is now largely in ruin and in urgent need of conservation.

The work by ARCHiNOS comprised:
• Full architectural documentation of the fort.
• A historical study of the fort in its broader context.
• A theoretical reconstruction in the form of a 3-D digital model.
• Structural condition assessment of the current condition based on on-site examination.
• Assessment of conservation needs by a fine art conservator, resulting in detailed maps of damage and recommendations for conservation interventions with detailed maps of intervention.
• Recommendations for adaptive re-use including a concept design for treatment and presentation of the site.

Restrictions on travel between Egypt and Saudi Arabia caused by the Covid-19 pandemic were a serious obstacle to the project, but ARCHiNOS was able to dispatch a structural team to the site, keep a steady pace of design work, and deliver the resulting package on time in May 2021.

Commissioned by:
the Saudi Royal Commission for AlUla

Location: al-‘Ula region, northern Saudi Arabia

February – May 2021
Project Director/Lead Designer: Agnieszka Dobrowolska

Designing and documentation team: Jaroslaw Dobrowolski, Jan Dobrowolski, Joanna Dyzewska, Eslam Bin Na’eb

Structural assessment: Grzegorz Bogobowicz and Malgorzata Bogobowicz
Conservation assessment: Erico Peintner