Breaking down barriers

01 Mar 2011

A dynamic learning and research environment supporting 21st Century learning

Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc. in association with Gulf Consult has been commissioned by Kuwait University to undertake the design and supervision of the new 220,000 sq m College of Engineering and Petroleum, slated to open in 2014. The College of Engineering and Petroleum (COEP) is an opportunity to bring Kuwait University’s engineering, architecture and allied technical disciplines together in a world-class, state-of-the-art facility.

Located on a bold new campus of Kuwait University at Sabah Al-Salem University City, COEP will serve 5000+ students with separate campuses for male and female undergraduate students. The project began with a four-year-long planning period (including a multi-city US study tour), which cemented Kuwait University’s vision for the COEP as a model of project-based, experiential learning. The design fosters and facilitates education based on collaboration and a multi-disciplinary approach. COEP will become a major sub-campus within the Sabah Al-Salem University City. It will house eight major departments including Architecture, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Industrial Engineering and Management Systems, Mechanical Engineering and Petroleum Engineering.

Knitting together this large college is a central, day-lit atrium space called the 'Science Souk' that brings together food services and student and faculty lounges to encourage informal dialogue and learning. Academic spaces include laboratories, studios, classrooms, project-based workshops, galleries, exhibition halls, administration offices, faculty offices and conference rooms. It also contains basement parking for 600 cars. From the beginning, the goal for the COEP was that the building itself facilitate discussions around sustainable design.

To that end, the design includes 'media walls' which tell the story of the building and describe the various 'green' building elements utilised. These include a rain screen exterior wall, shaded outdoor spaces, a photovoltaic demonstration area, and wastewater recycling. Sustainable design as a concept is in a rather nascent stage in Kuwait, and, not surprisingly, water conservation is of utmost importance. The COEP is designed to be the equivalent of a LEED Silver building in the U.S.

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