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 maintaing 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 and best practice in terms of performance spaces and sustainability. It will become a landmark and physical reference point 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 but also pays abstract homage to the distinctive profile of the dhow, a sailing ship used for many generations as Kuwait’s primary means of export. The whole development is unified by the a lily-pad roof canopy which is supported on timber columns creating a forest of tree-like structures within the central oasis garden.