WORLD’S LARGEST TENT CITY: MINA
Pilgrims in masses set out from Mecca to the sprawling tent city of Mina after their seven rounds at Mecca, Safa, and Murah. The journey towards Mina is covered on foot or by buses and cars. Situated 12 kilometers outside Makkah, Mina is a small city located inside a valley. The stay in the city signifies the importance of the day spent before the day of sacrifice.
Present-day Mina serves for 5-6 days of every year continuously. It hosts almost 100,000 tents, with increasing numbers of pilgrims each year. The tents create an entire settlement on land that remains deserted at the other time of the year.
Currently, more than 2 million Muslims from around the world are stated to attend the five-day Hajj pilgrimage annually in Mecca. The figure is speculated to grow to 5- 10 million visitors in the coming decades which is sure to push the current system designs to their limits.
The problem doesn’t lie in handling so many visitors, but this huge influx of visitors for 5 days and the system remains vacant for the next 360 days. This is where it requires meticulous planning of resources and infrastructure for managing this pilgrim surge.
Hajj is a predominant source of livelihood for the majority of the population of Mecca. The place serves 5 days of pilgrims that constitutes a lot of hospitality, tourism, transportation, food & beverage, retail, and a lot of small businesses to begin with. This dependence is especially visible in the context of 2020. Last year the entire pilgrim journey was called off due to the outbreak of the pandemic. Only a few were permitted to attend the holy journey, which caused a major disruption in the financial stability and well-being of the people in the city.
Can there be a better alternative to the current systems of tent-based housing with a more comprehensive solution? If horizontally the tent city is landlocked; can we see a new realm of vertical space making? Can covid-19 concerns and such medical emergencies be worked upon for healthy living for the elderly? With such a huge surge, taking the elderly population coming in from various walks of life and educational backgrounds, how can we ensure safe crowd management for Hajj pilgrims when the capacity rises manifold in the coming decades?
Brief: The design challenge is to conceive a modular solution for housing Hajj pilgrims in the city of Mina. The stay duration is aimed at 6 days of air-cooled living, cost-effective, fireproof, hygienic, and incremental to begin with, and can go as much as elevating pilgrim experience with whichever means found imperative, Saudi Arabia is currently organizing a distinct regional plan under the leadership of Prince Muhammad bin Salman. This plan is considered the source of inspiration for this competition organized by the well-known INJ Architectural Office in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the best architectural office in Saudi Arabia (based on Google’s research), where it is expected that the projects are undertaken by Saudi Arabia It will be necessary to accommodate this expansion by finding new solutions for the largest tent city in the world