'Timeless' public building planned for flourishing city of Sabah Al Ahmad
BDP has been appointed by the Public Authority of Housing Welfare (PAHW) to design a Cultural Centre within the arid sands of the Kuwaiti desert. The new centre will lie at the heart of Sabah Al Ahmad, a major new city, and will provide state-of-the-art facilities and an inspirational home for a wide range of cultural activities.
Project Director Richard McDowell said: “A key driver for us is the desire to create a new centre with a sense of place, a timeless edifice that acts as a focal point for the new city of Sabah Al Ahmad but that also fulfils the role of a spiritual heart space in the city. Creating this project on such a scale while maintaining a humanistic approach is a complex challenge culturally, architecturally and environmentally, and we intend to set a new international standard for such facilities”
The project will highlight the rich historic and contemporary cultural activity of Kuwait whilst pushing the best practice in terms of performance spaces and promoting sustainability. The aim is for the building to become a landmark and physical reference point in Kuwait, providing a striking architectural intervention whilst creating a unique public gathering space at a key point in the new city.
The key performance spaces are expressed as dynamic forms, informed primarily by their function. The design also pays an abstract homage to the distinctive profile of the dhow, a sailing ship used for many generations as Kuwait’s primary means of export. The architects have designed a roof canopy that joins the entire complex together. As well as real trees and vegetation being planted, timber columns are used to mimic trees so as to add to the illusion of an oasis under this canopy. There is an interesting and elegant lily-pad inspired design on the canopy that adds to the atmosphere in the oasis space and from the aerial visualisation makes the building appear to be a lily pond sitting in the city.