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Oct / Nov 2017
Sand Castles

Photography: Nelson Garrido

It takes a certain optimism to build a city in the middle of a desert. In fact, Kuwait's rapid urbanisation during the late 1970s represents a landmark in Middle East architecture, as seen in the pages of Modern Architecture of Kuwait, a book by Roberto Fabbri and Ricardo Camancho.

The entrance to the Qadsia Sporting Club, one of the Kuwait Sports Clubs built between 1970-1977. After Kuwait was announced as host of the 1980 Asian Cup, the Ministry of Public Works commissioned Iraq Consult, who were also behind the Al Shaab football stadium in Baghdad, to construct these large sports facilities. The project also included architects from TEST and Pace.


A view from the shopping hall inside the Yahza Zakaria Al Ansari Residential Complex (1973-74), designed by Pace. 


Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah Mosque (1980-81) in Ras Al Samiya near the royal palace,  features two distinct elements: the prayer hall is a stepped pyramid  while the entrance hall hosts a library, a research centre and the Imam's office.  It was commissioned by the Sheikh and designed by French firm Bureau d'Architecte Henri Montois. 


The Port Authority Headquarters, (1984-1992) were the result of an international competition and the design was inspired by the Centre Georges Pompidou built in Paris in 1977. It contains a car park for 3,000 vehicles, offices, a duty-free zone with shops and cafeteria, a multi-purpose hall and the Marine Museum and library.   It was designed by architecture firms INCO and SSH with Dino Georgiou Architects. 


Designed by Iraq Consult's Refat Chardiji, the Hassawi Residential Complexes (1968-1971) were meant to represent his vision for a modern regionalised architecture. The mixed-use structure features meticulously organised, free-standing arcades, with a commercial section along Beirut Street and nine residential blocks of six-storey height.


A skylight and internal view in the AWQAF commercial complex (1978-82). It was designed by Abdul Raouf and Ahmed Mashour, and it exemplifies the meeting of Eastern sensibilities with Western engineering and materials.


The west-facing façades of the AWQAF complex (1978-82) have inverted terraces that provide shade below. Built by Egyptian architects Abdul Raouf and Ahmed Mashour, the building houses commercial and office space on the first three floors while the rest of the building is residential. The project was the result of the Ministry of Religious Affair's mission to provide subsidised housing for nationals, and the commercial podium was meant to finance the housing. 


Inside the Port Authority headquarters (1984-1992), where an internal central atrium enclosed by offices defines the public areas in the building. 


The Hilton Area Apartments (1977-1979) were designed by world-renowned architect I. M. Pei and today consist of 18 towers with more than 300 spacious apartments now known as Massaleh Towers.

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