New NEOM documentary features Thom Mayne, Peter Cook, Reinier de Graaf, and other architects speaking highly of The Line megacity project

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A model of an individual module component for The Line at the recent Experience exhibition in Riyadh. Exhibition image courtesy of NEOM (2022).

A model of an individual module component for The Line at the recent Experience exhibition in Riyadh. Exhibition image courtesy of NEOM (2022).

A new look behind the process and select architects involved in Saudi Arabia’s controversial The Line megacity for NEOM has been released, answering some questions as to its ideation while leaving many remaining in regard to the project’s structural engineering, technical specifics, and design feasibility overall.

Among the torrent of quickly-spliced and placable bromides, the 45-minute “documentary” features Peter Cook stating, “if it’s to be a success… parts of it will fail.” None of the interviewees, including especially Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, offered an explanation as to how the “top-down, hardcore engineering” OMA partner Reinier de Graaf describes will be carried out in any detail, an element which has been a constant source of criticism since the segment was first announced a year ago. 

“Many projects acquire their sanity as they go along, and I think very, very much the case here too — and the jury’s out,” de Graaf stated before bemoaning a “complete lack of real urgency” on other supposedly sustainability-oriented briefs across the industry.

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Related on Archinect: The Line, the largest part of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious NEOM project, looks like a total fantasy

The notion underpinning the project, namely that more parts of the earth are becoming uninhabitable, as the IPCC reported last year, seems to be the only justification for the megaproject that’s based on verifiable fact. Saudi Arabia’s population is also expected to grow. Several critics have questioned the state’s capacity to adequately power and cool the structure, as well.

Meanwhile, NEOM’s ulterior satellite offshoots have begun the process of securing outside funding while its “Zero-Gravity Urbanism” concept is on display in Venice. Construction on its 170-kilometer-long superstructure began in October, with its completion rumored for 2030.

“The fact that just so many people [are] involved… something interesting’s going to happen,” Morphosis founding partner Thom Mayne says near the end. 

The full video can be viewed below via Discovery UK.

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