The Haj, the fifth pillar of Islam, is the pilgrimage to Makkah which should ideally be made at least once by every able-bodied Muslim. Some two million Haj pilgrims arrive annually in Makkah and Medina, from at least 150 different countries for the four-day period of Dhu al-Hijjah.
The new Haramain high-speed (360kph) rail link is designed to ease travel between Medinah and Makkah for the pilgrims. This project concerned the design of the four new stations, at Jeddah, Makkah, Medinah and King Abdullah Economic City.
The proposal adopts a modular system, using a series of prefabricated, lightweight components for each of the architectural elements. The external structure of each station was created from a series of arches, the number depending upon the station length, arranged in sequence along either side of the track and connected with tensile members supporting translucent, insulated canopies.
The modular approach is continued at platform level, with the creation of units which could be combined to form kiosks containing shops, waiting rooms and services enclosures. Again, the size of each kiosk could be tailored to its location simply by varying the number of modules it employed.