Kuwait: architecture in the desert


Founded in the 17th century, Kuwait City, the capital of the emirate of Kuwait, was reborn in the 1930s with oil discoveries. Since then, one of the richest emirates in the world has been investing in art, architecture and large-scale cultural projects

Al Hamra Tower

One of the symbols of Kuwait is the 414-meter Al Hamra Tower, erected in 2011 by the architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the authors of the famous Dubai Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world. 77 floors of the Al-Hamra skyscraper are given over to a shopping center, offices, an 11-storey parking lot and a view restaurant. The unusual silhouette of the building is functional: thanks to it, a panoramic view opens from each room.

Great Mosque

This mosque fully lives up to its name: built in 1986 by Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed al-Sabah, it spreads over 20,000 square meters. m (the same amount is given for the adjoining gardens) and accommodates 10,000 men; there is also a separate prayer hall for thousands of women. The architecture combines elements of traditional mosques and modern technologies – for example, the lighting scenario of a building depends on the phase of the moon.

Water towers

The three water towers, built in 1979 by the architects San Lindström and Malene Bjorn, are symbols of Kuwait. A country rich in oil has always experienced a shortage of fresh water, so these towers are not only an architectural treasure, but literally a vital necessity. The first, the main tower, 187 meters high, has two spherical extensions: the first is a utilitarian one – a water reservoir, the second houses a restaurant and an observation deck. The second tower was limited to the reservoir, and the task of the third, the smallest, was to illuminate its “friends”. During the Gulf War, the towers were badly damaged, but in 2012, thanks to a large-scale restoration, they returned to their former futuristic appearance.

Mushroom Towers

The topic of fresh water and water supply is central to a wealthy Middle Eastern country. In addition to the work of Lindstem and Björn, the city boasts another architectural and functional landmark – a complex of 31 single water towers. In six years, from 1970 to 1976, the architect Sune Lindström erected all the towers in five districts of Kuwait according to the design of the Sweco bureau. For their shape they were called “mushrooms” or “fly agaric”, and the height of the towers varies from 30 to 40 m.

Opera House

Kuwait is actively investing in art. In 2016, a new Cultural Center named after Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmed was opened in the capital, which cost the government 755 mln. dollars. On an area of ​​21,400 sq. m architects SHH built, in addition to the theater, library, exhibition and conference halls, the Opera House. The huge futuristic building has become one of the largest music venues in the world. Unfortunately, it also became famous for the fire that broke out in the technical rooms of the opera just a few months after its opening. No one was hurt, and the building itself was quickly repaired.

Emir's Old Seif Palace

Opened in 1917, the Emir's Palace is one of the rare historical buildings in Kuwait. It was created as the official residence of the sheikh in the traditional Arabic style from local materials. The pride of the palace is the dome of the clock tower, covered with gold. During the war, the tower and the palace as a whole were badly damaged, but they were restored, and today archival documents of the history of Kuwait are kept here.

Al Shahid Park

The memorial park dedicated to the memory of those killed during the conflict in Pesida Bay was completely reconstructed in 2015. There are also museums dedicated to the history of the military conflict, as well as the nature of the emirate.

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