The strangely attractive 70’s architecture of Kuwait


I’m back in Amman now. I finally had the chance yesterday to review the photos I took in Kuwait (with a camera generously loaned to me by one of my hosts). It is my destiny, it seems, to photograph Arab cities from a speeding car, as I try to record my impressions between business meetings.

Kuwait, being one of the ‘older’ countries of the Gulf, has many examples of 60’s and 70’s architecture that reflects trends in late modern architecture and attempts to express a certain ‘Arab spirit’ through modern interpretations of Arabic visual language (arches, patterns, geometry, etc).

Our teachers at architecture school usually dismissed such architecture are ‘cosmetic’: using an Arab architectural veneer, instead of understanding the real heritage of Arab architecture’s spacial organization and true spirit. This criticism certainly hold true in many instances. Yet there is something strangely attractive by the mash-up of late modernism and gulfian identity.

Looked at in retrospect, this architecture is fascinating. And it certainly possesses more character than the bland glass towers that are shooting up all over the gulf today.
The picture above is that of Gulf Bank, built (as far as I understand) in the mid 70’s.. Sadly I could not find any information about this building on the net. Any additional info would be appreciated.

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One Response to “The strangely attractive 70’s architecture of Kuwait”

  1. ohoud Says:

    You know this reminds me so much of “Cinema al Khayaam”, we did a Heritage project on that a year ago with our University.

    I suppose it was the same period, maybe even 60’s…

    Have loads of pics if you’re interested!

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