Telal Sumou was specifically designed with the intent and hope of introducing a new, more pedestrian-friendly building type to Dammam, Saudi Arabia. The site has a significant amount of topography dramatically sloping approximately 13m from one side to the other separating two parallel streets. One side prominently fronts the Dammam Jubail Expressway with the goal to provide truly mixed-use buildings along its entire length. Active commercial uses in the form of retail at grade with office and residential above enfront a wide sidewalk and landscape promenade of 20m that acts as a buffer from the expressway. The interior, upper parallel street has been traffic calmed, is more pedestrian-friendly and is lined with smaller retail shops. Stepped walkways lead from one street to the other with a large central plaza at the mid-point of the site, opening up a view to the top parallel street and the neighborhood’s main plaza which serves as the figural heart of the community. The Juma mosque becomes the focal point and dramatically terminates the view at the top of the central stairs. All streets have been deliberately laid out to lead directly to the main plaza.
The plan has been deliberately laid out in a compact, walkable and mixed-use manner to provide a truly sustainable and liveable community where all residents will be within walking distance of their daily needs. The residential blocks have been designed in an innovative way - in clusters of typically 2-4 buildings. Parking is concealed below the building. The clusters allow the buildings, by their lot placement, to work together to create intimate, attractive, semi-private spaces between them. These spaces are accessed by pedestrian passages which create an interior priority pedestrian network that adds to the connectivity of the site. These cross-block pedestrian-only passages further facilitate movement through the site. The main public open space has been designed as the central mosque plaza, while smaller public courtyard spaces have been evenly distributed throughout the site to provide all adults and children abundant access to civic places of relaxation and enjoyment. Buildings then provide a disciplined frontage as they address the street, paying particular attention to the street itself as a “room’ further enhancing public realm.