Follow Misk on:

Share this page:

Spaces in Between

by Jawaher Al-Sudairy 

Free space invites opportunity. It welcomes passersby, visitors and tenants to sit, rest and reside. Once, open land offered endless space for nomadic and independent settlement. Today, such informal consumption of space drives suburban growth. Within urban peripheries, where development meets open desert, the distinction between city edge and hinterland is blurred as bare expanses are punctured by spontaneous development.

Over the past four decades, Saudi’s metropolitan centers have undergone rapid urbanization, propelled by rural migration that has extended built territories outwards. Settlement-driven growth has produced disjointed, mono-functional, car-dependent neighborhoods connected by highways. This translates to a state of fragmentation, with over 40% of land within cities vacant. The wide distances created between residential enclaves have thus eroded social ties and continue to deplete natural resources.   As questions of quality of life and spatial considerations take center stage in national economic plans, design and policy interventions at the municipal level attempt to reverse sprawl and create density.

The most noteworthy of these interventions include: announcing taxation on vacant land, reducing gas subsidies, reconsidering zoning and height limitations on buildings, constructing public transportation infrastructure and instituting transit-oriented development. This recent reckoning of the challenges of urbanization has emphasised the role that design can play in influencing citizens’ behaviors and preferences, shaping social life and rebuilding community. Saudi cities are seeking to steer development inward and repurpose empty lots into public and convivial spaces that allow for walkability, human interaction and mixing. These developments are directly transforming the architectural landscape of Saudi’s urban centers, and include the proliferation of iconic structures that rise on the skyline.  

24 May, 2018

Sale d'Armi North, Arsenale

Jawaher Al-Sudairy
Dr. Sumaya Al-Solaiman

Abdulrahman & Turki Gazzaz

Misk Art Institute


Abdulrahman Gazzaz
Abdulrahman Gazzaz

Born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in 1985
Lives and works in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Turki Gazzaz Bw
Turki Gazzaz

Born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in 1988
Lives and works in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


Jawaher Al Sudairy
Jawaher Al-Sudairy

Lives and works in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Dr Sumayah Al Solaiman
Dr. Sumayah Al-Solaiman

Lives and works in Dammam, Saudi Arabia

download icon facebook hamburger icon kufic-background-shape icon kufic-edge icon kufic-flush icon logo-ar icon mail icon share icon twitter