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Architecture of Kuwait

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Kuwaiti architecture is a style of architecture unique to Kuwait, a country founded in the early 18th century. Before the discovery of oil, Kuwait has an economy reliant on maritime trade, shipbuilding, caravan trade and the pearl industry. The economy improved by the discovery of oil, enabling more economic growth.

History

Kuwait City was surrounded by a wall with five gates in the 18th century, but it was demolished when the new masterplan was implemented in 1952. Apart from the city wall, Kuwait was protected by two forts: one in the city, and the other one at Jahra known as the "Red Fort".

Kuwait's traditional building materials were stone collected from the sea or rubble stone covered with thick mud plaster, mud brick and sometimes Cora stone. Wood was rare, though mangrove poles imported from East Africa were used for roofs, as were some other few select woods from India. Early Kuwaiti architecture was relatively simple and intuitive, with a focus on maintaining the privacy of the house. Houses had simple and basic exterior designs, and most artistic touches were found on main doors and windows. These houses having to accommodate the communal and tight-knit nature of Kuwaiti society were divided into separate quarters accommodating different members of one family, usually the male children of the owner of the house and their wives. It is common to find central courts, as is the case in other Arab countries, that served as a gathering place for the families. Some families, often those that were more affluent, would have multiple courtyards and their houses would also be larger.

Later, during the 18th century, a typical Kuwait merchant house was built in the Ottoman style that reached the city from Basra. Ottoman features included projecting wooden balconies enclosed with wooden screens or mashrabiya and covered wooden doorways which sometimes included European motifs. The extreme heat of the city made wind catchers and ventilation a necessity for most houses. Thus, some houses installed wind catchers.[1] Lewis Pelly, a Political Resident, described Kuwait in the 1860s as:

A clean, active town, with a broad and open main bazaar, and numerous solid stone dwelling houses stretching along this strand and containing some 20,000 inhabitants, attracting Arab and Persian merchants from all quarters by the equity of its rule and by the freedom of its trade.[2]

Within the city, there were a number of mosques, most of which have been rebuilt several times. The oldest mosques in Kuwait are the Alkhamis Mosque, built between 1772 and 1773, and the Abd AlRazzag Mosque built in 1797. Before the 9th century, minarets were rare, consisting of small square towers covered with small roof canopies.

In 1952, the British planning firm of Minorprio, Spenceley and MacFarlane were hired to design the first master plan of Kuwait. The plan was based loosely on Ebenezer Howard's Garden City and the firms experience with New Towns.

Modern architecture in Kuwait is mostly in the International style, although there are several buildings that demonstrate a relationship with Middle Eastern themes. One of the most well known examples of Kuwaiti modern architecture is the water towers, consisting of tall pointed conical spires above a spherical water tank. Kuwait Towers is also considered Kuwait's most prominent architectural achievement. Kuwait Towers were completed in 1978 and designed by VBB, Sune and Joe Lindström, Stig Egnell, and Björn & Björn Design (Malene Björn). Together, the Kuwait Towers and the water towers serve as a connected water infrastructure. The project was nominated for The Aga Khan Award for Architecture 1978-1980 Cycle.[3] The National Assembly of Kuwait is also a landmark building, designed by the Danish architect Jørn Utzon and completed in 1972.

Discover more about History related topics

Kuwait City

Kuwait City

Kuwait City is the capital and largest city of Kuwait. Located at the heart of the country on the south shore of Kuwait Bay on the Persian Gulf, it is the political, cultural and economical centre of the emirate, containing Kuwait's Seif Palace, government offices, and the headquarters of most Kuwaiti corporations and banks. It is one of the hottest cities in summer on earth, with average summer high temperatures over 45 °C (113 °F) for three months of the year.

Kuwait Red Fort

Kuwait Red Fort

The Kuwait Red Fort, or Red Palace, is a historic palace and museum that lies about 32 kilometres west of Kuwait City in Al-Jahra.

Building material

Building material

Building material is material used for construction. Many naturally occurring substances, such as clay, rocks, sand, wood, and even twigs and leaves, have been used to construct buildings. Apart from naturally occurring materials, many man-made products are in use, some more and some less synthetic. The manufacturing of building materials is an established industry in many countries and the use of these materials is typically segmented into specific specialty trades, such as carpentry, insulation, plumbing, and roofing work. They provide the make-up of habitats and structures including homes.

Brick

Brick

A brick is a type of block used to build walls, pavements and other elements in masonry construction. Properly, the term brick denotes a block composed of dried clay, but is now also used informally to denote other chemically cured construction blocks. Bricks can be joined using mortar, adhesives or by interlocking them. Bricks are usually produced at brickworks in numerous classes, types, materials, and sizes which vary with region and time period, and are produced in bulk quantities.

Mangrove

Mangrove

A mangrove is a shrub or tree that grows in coastal saline or brackish water. The term is also used for tropical coastal vegetation consisting of such species. Mangroves are taxonomically diverse, as a result of convergent evolution in several plant families. They occur worldwide in the tropics and subtropics and even some temperate coastal areas, mainly between latitudes 30° N and 30° S, with the greatest mangrove area within 5° of the equator. Mangrove plant families first appeared during the Late Cretaceous to Paleocene epochs, and became widely distributed in part due to the movement of tectonic plates. The oldest known fossils of mangrove palm date to 75 million years ago.

Mashrabiya

Mashrabiya

A mashrabiya or mashrabiyya is an architectural element which is characteristic of traditional architecture in the Islamic world and beyond. It is a type of projecting oriel window enclosed with carved wood latticework located on the upper floors of a building, sometimes enhanced with stained glass. It was traditionally used to catch wind and for passive cooling. Jars and basins of water could be placed in it to cause evaporative cooling. It is most commonly used on the street side of the building; however, it may also be used internally on the sahn (courtyard) side. The term mashrabiya is sometimes used of similar lattices elsewhere, for instance in a takhtabush.

Lewis Pelly

Lewis Pelly

Lieutenant General Sir Lewis Pelly, was a British East India Company officer, and then an imperial army and political officer. At the end of his life, he was a Conservative Member of Parliament for Hackney North, from 1885 to 1892.

Minaret

Minaret

A minaret is a type of tower typically built into or adjacent to mosques. Minarets are generally used to project the Muslim call to prayer (adhan), but they also served as landmarks and symbols of Islam's presence. They can have a variety of forms, from thick, squat towers to soaring, pencil-thin spires.

Anthony Minoprio

Anthony Minoprio

Sir Charles Anthony Minoprio (1900–1988) was a British architect and town planner. Much of his early work was in partnership with Hugh Spencely (1900–1983), a friend since they attended Harrow School together. Later he worked more as a town planner, particularly the New Town of Crawley.

Hugh Spencely

Hugh Spencely

Hugh Greville Castle Spencely (1900–1983) was a British architect. He mostly worked in partnership with Anthony Minoprio (1900–1988), the two having been friends since they were schoolboys at Harrow School.

Ebenezer Howard

Ebenezer Howard

Sir Ebenezer Howard was an English urban planner and founder of the garden city movement, known for his publication To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform (1898), the description of a utopian city in which people live harmoniously together with nature. The publication resulted in the founding of the garden city movement, and the building of the first garden city, Letchworth Garden City, commenced in 1903.

Garden city movement

Garden city movement

The garden city movement was a 20th century urban planning movement promoting satellite communities surrounding the central city and separated with greenbelts. These Garden Cities would contain proportionate areas of residences, industry, and agriculture. Ebenezer Howard first posited the idea in 1898 as a way to capture the primary benefits of the countryside and the city while avoiding the disadvantages presented by both. In the early 20th century, Letchworth, Brentham Garden Suburb and Welwyn Garden City were built in or near London according to Howard's concept and many other garden cities inspired by his model have since been built all over the world.

Gallery

Source: "Architecture of Kuwait", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture_of_Kuwait.

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See also
References
  1. ^ Saif, Jamal; Wright, Andrew; Khattak, Sanober; Elfadli, Kasem (2021-03-06). "Keeping Cool in the Desert: Using Wind Catchers for Improved Thermal Comfort and Indoor Air Quality at Half the Energy". Buildings. 11 (3): 100. doi:10.3390/buildings11030100. ISSN 2075-5309.
  2. ^ Pelly, Lewis (1864). "Remarks on a recent Journey from Bushire to Shirauz by Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Pelly, Acting Political Resident, Persian Gulf". Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London. 14 (1): 73. ISSN 1478-615X.
  3. ^ "Water Towers - AKDN". the.akdn. Retrieved 2023-01-25.

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