Maraya Concert Hall, located approximately 220 kilometers from Tabuk in the Saudi desert, is not just a Guinness World Record holder for being the largest mirrored building globally; it’s a testament to a unique architectural philosophy. Architect Florian Boje, one of the creators, shared the essence of the design in a recent CNN Travel interview: “If a building cannot compete with the landscape, it should enhance it.” Maraya achieves this by being entirely clad in mirrors, seamlessly blending with the surroundings, and appearing almost indistinguishable from the landscape, depending on the time of day.
In Arabic, “maraya” translates to mirror or reflection, perfectly encapsulating the essence of this building erected by the Royal Commission for Al Ula (RCU) in the Saudi Arabian desert. Covered in 9,740 square meters of mirrors, Maraya reflects and enhances the beauty of the Al Ula desert landscape. Visitors attest to the astonishing effect, with the building seemingly merging with its environment during certain hours of the day.
While Maraya is not the only mirrored building globally, it holds the Guinness World Record for being the largest mirrored structure. Recognized in 2019, the building continues to be a striking feature in the Guinness World Records, covered in a second skin of glass that reflects the stunning Al Ula desert scenery.
The design philosophy goes beyond aesthetics, as Maraya aims to pay homage to the desert and its rich culture. Situated in the Ashar Valley, known for its breathtaking canyons and rock formations shaped over millions of years, Maraya aligns with the UNESCO-recognized archaeological site of Hegra or Al-Hijr. The design decision was clear: “If we have to build here, it must be a silent mirror cube.”
Maraya serves as an expansive concert hall and event venue, hosting performances by renowned artists like Alicia Keys, Andrea Bocelli, and John Legend. Its grandeur includes a 1,756-square-meter auditorium for 500 people, a VIP area, and spaces for conferences and meetings. The theater, standing at 26 meters, features a retractable 800-square-meter window that opens to nature, seamlessly blending the environment with entertainment.
The colossal puzzle of mirrors covering Maraya—supplied by Guardian Glass—required a robust solution to withstand the harsh desert conditions. Guardian Glass developed a new copper mirror based on the durable Guardian UltraMirror, featuring a special protective coating to endure the intense sunlight and humidity, showcasing its resilience against some of the planet’s toughest elements. As Maraya continues to capture the world’s fascination, it stands as an architectural marvel that not only reflects the landscape but elevates it to new heights.