Sunday, 24 April 2011

Dwelling Kuwait: Area, Block, Street, House

Department of Architecture
College of Engineering and Petroleum
Kuwait University
ARCH 306 Architectural Design IV
Spring  2011

Date: Sunday April 24, 2011
Time: 1:00-4:00 pm
Place: KU School of Engineering - Khaldiya - Main Building - conference hall # 119 Next to Ahli Bank.

  Members of the panel:
a. Instructor: Dr. Mohammed Alajmi: announces the opening of the discussion
b. Round Table Moderator: Arch. Abdulatif Almishari: directs the questions and discussion, motivates interaction between panelists and audience.
c. Round Table Participants:
- Eng. Ashwaq Almudhaf – Municipal Council Member
- Arch Nasser Khuraibut – Public Authority for Housing Welfare
- Eng. Nizar Alsayegh – Municipality – VP Kuwait Master Plan
- Dr. Nasser Abulhasan – Architect
- Dr. Aseel Alraqum - KU department of architecture.

Whether you are flying over Kuwait, or looking at an aerial map of the country or experiencing it by driving on one of its radial or ring roads you can’t not notice the amalgamations of eclectic residential blocks and residences adorning either side of the expansive freeways. Residential areas and housing in general constitutes the majority of the metropolitan area in the country. Other mono-programmed areas designated for singular uses such as governmental, commercial, industrial, health and educational constitute a miniscule percentage of the total built up area. This sea of privately owned dwellings has numerous potent effects on inhabitants’ behaviors on the micro scale and on the country’s identity on the macro scale.

This sea of eclectic housing is a result of intricate and bold planning decisions. The master planning of modern day Kuwait was as much an endeavor in wealth distribution as it was a spatial enterprise. A physical plan had to act as a vehicle for systematic distribution of oil revenues though the proper supplementation of health, education and housing programs. As a result of the British planning milieu at the time and its dominancy, New Town Planning principles were adopted as tools of intervention and the further expansion of the country.

The motivations of the early residential blocks were very valiant and clear. Stemming from the theories and principals of Ebenezer Howard and the Garden City model, the new residential areas where self sufficient clusters that catered to the latest advances in technology and the social-sciences. Accommodating for the latest mode of transportation, the car, and providing the most advanced services from health to education, the blocks were successful in not only providing shelter for inhabitants but in transforming generations of Kuwaitis to allow them to be at the forefront of development. The planning of residential blocks addressed social and cultural issues as much as it addressed the physical allocation of buildings and areas. Providing housing was much more than just providing shelter, housing distribution became one of the main facilitators in transforming the country from a small merchants’ entrepot to a world-class capital.

According to the Public Authority of Housing Welfare in Kuwait, the need for housing has escalated tremendously in the past years paralleling the increase in population in the country. In the next 7 years, PAHW plans to build the same amount of housing it supplied in the past 35 years. These efforts have resulted in the planning and preliminary execution of mega residential areas that include projects such as Sabah Alahmed City, Khiran City, and Almutlaa. What are the motivations of these developments, how are they instrumental in transforming societies, how do they aid in providing the latest knowledge and well-being to their inhabitants? Is the block in need of re-thinking?

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