الخميس، 12 ديسمبر 2013

Sabah Al-Ahmad City Cultural Centre | By BDP

Project: Sabah Al-Ahmad City Cultural Centre
Location: Sabah Al-Ahmad City, Kuwait
Client: Public Authority of Housing Welfare (PAHW)
 BDPLocal Consultant: PACEStage: Schematic Design; Approved by PAHW

To create a new city of 2,500 inhabitants within the arid sands of the Kuwaiti desert is a bold and courageous vision. Cities are complex organisms which normally evolve gradually over hundreds of years. Achieving this challenge successfully at Sabah Al Ahmad will require a combination of many skills along with dedication, determination and experience.
The Cultural Centre lies at the heart of the new city. It will be one of
the most important buildings within Sabah Al Ahmad and needs to evolve from Kuwait's heritage, providing state of the art facilities and an inspirational home for a wide range of cultural activities. The functions which it will house are fundamental to a great city and to civilised society. Each of these will be accommodated in a suitably expressive and functional structure.
Design Approach and Methodology
A key driver for us in the project 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 for each individual occupant.
Creating such a rooted intervention on such a scale while maintaining a humanistic approach is a complex challenge culturally, architecturally and environmentally but if achieved it will help tie the city physically and socially together and set a new standard for such facilities internationally. To do this we have approached the project from a global, local and ultimately individual perspective. Global, in the sense that it will highlight nationally and internationally the rich historic and contemporary cultural activity of Kuwait and best practice in terms of performance spaces and sustainability.
Locally, in the sense that it will became a landmark and physical reference point for the new city providing a stricking architectural intervention whilst creating a unique public gathering space at a key point in the new city. Individually, in that it will provide a rich resource for education, entertainment, research and exhibition for the citizens of the Sabah Al Ahmad. In developing our conceptual architectural approach we have reflected on the rich cultural heritage of Kuwait, its relationship with the sea and desert, the vernacular approach to dealing with what can be a harsh climate, its geography and relationship with fresh water and the artistic traditions of textiles and pattern.
We have combined these drivers to create what we believe is a uniquely expressive and distinctively Kuwait specific building. We have created a true cultural oasis as the heart of a timeless and geologically rooted, quite literally, ground breaking architecture . We have covered this precious space with a simple geometric patterned roof to provide it with shade and protection from the wind as desert dwellers have done for generations. Above this landform sit the key performance spaces as a celebration of the ongoing renaissance in the performing arts that is rippling out across the region from Kuwait.
The shape and expression of these dynamic forms are informed primarily by their function but also pays abstract homage to the distinctive profile of the dhow used for so many generations as Kuwait's primary means of export. The Sabah Al Ahmad City Cultural Centre needs to be what the Opera House is to Sidney or the Guggenheim's of New York and Bilbao. If it can successfully achieve this is will imbue the building with a sense of place and provided the wider city with a timeless legacy which will symbolise not just a cultural but national rebirth and create a true cultural oasis in the desert.
The Project
Since ancient times Kuwait's influence has spread far and wide through its trade, cultural and scientific endeavours. The country's maritime expertise and rich cultural heritage have been the envy of the world and as such has had influence far beyond its borders. The Kuwaiti State recognises this heritage and its pivotal role in empowering the individual and through them the wider society. It is these individuals, and especially the youth of the country, that the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters (NCCAL) wish to develop, educate and entertain in order to pass on an understanding of civil heritage and enhance the idea of a wider nation which nurtures all its people.
We recognise Kuwait's central role in the greatest performing art renaissance ever seen in the Gulf Area and the impact and influence this is having across the region and further afield. We also fully understand and applaud Kuwait's investment and emphasis on Cultural, Scientific and Sporting activities and the role this is taking in benefitting society itself whether this be on the macro scale of the country, within the local scale of the new city of Sabah Al Ahmad or at the micro scale of the individual. This latter point is key in encouraging and motivating the youth, as the building blocks of society, to participate in such activities if the benefits to civil society of a sustainable a renewable cultural renaissance are to be fully taken.
The Sabah Al Ahmad Cultural Centre has the unique opportunity to form a spiritual and physical heart within the new city, a heart that is founded on the promotion of culture, arts and literature as one of the most important elements of welfare and development of a healthy society.
Massing and materials
The plateau buildings will be constructed in heavy masonry and concrete, a processed version of the earth itself. The oasis will be accessible via deep 'ravines' within the plinth which ramp down through it providing a cool shaded and very dramatic approach to the generous gardens beyond. The performances spaces vary in height and size creating a variety of different but related forms perched on top of the plateau. These dhow inspired forms are updated materially to withstand the harsh environment with timber being replaced by faceted titanium and glass crystalline facades. The whole development is unified by the oasis lily pad roof canopy which is supported on timber columns creating a forest of 'tree' structures within the oasis garden. We believe that our approach responds to the duel, sometimes conflicting, need to provide an architectural reference point while at the same time providing something of a human scale. Our proposal captures the dynamism and energy of performance art and music while at the same time providing cool calm relaxation and contemplation areas of unique scale and lushness.
We use the latest 3D acoustics modelling software, including ODEON, Ease and CadnaA, to analyse the interior acoustics and the external environment. Internal room acoustics models will be used to assess the acoustic conditions of internal spaces, using ray-tracing and grid responses for detailed analysis of reflections and the sound decay at multiple locations, and single sourcereceiver point analysis to create auralisations to simulate how t
he space will sound at different audience locations.
Models will be used to optimise acoustic finishes and elements to ensure superb acoustic conditions. External acoustic modelling will be used to predict the effect of the local noise climate on the building, for assessment of sound insulation requirements, as well as impact of the development upon the outside world like limiting noise break-out from events and plant noise. Our experience will ensure all the venues are suitable for diverse, lively, and vibrant cultural events, making the new Sabah-Al-Almad Cultural Centre the cultural hub of Kuwait.
Sustainability Design Approach
BDP's sustainable design approach exploits solutions that are responsive to climatic parameters of Sabah Al Ahmad City. The aim is to reduce significantly the energy demand for the Cultural Centre, provide comfort conditions and desirable environments through passive design strategies where appropriate, allowing energy to be used in an efficient way, and renewable sources to be harnessed. Environmental design passive strategies The high temperatures in the midseason and summer months create the need to minimize solar heat gains and enhancing passive cooling. This will be achieved with adequate solar shading devices from building elements, vegetation and by introducing microclimate integrated within the landscaping areas.
The central garden will be sheltered from the prevailing hot winds and sand storms by a plateaux buildings arrangement. Ventilation towers situated at the edges of the site will harness wind and provide preconditioned fresh air to the central space and buildings via a ventilation earth tube strategy. Evaporative cooling towers and intelligent canopy will also be provided in the central garden to enhance the microclimate conditions.
The cooling tower will utilize recycled and treated grey water from the buildings to provide thermal comfort at occupant's level; the canopies will provide shading and harness solar energy when integrated with photovoltaic panels. Vegetation/ native planting and narrow street will also be highly effective in achieving microclimate conditions. Heavy weight building envelopes will provide thermal mass to absorb heat gains during the day and provide nocturnal cooling to exploit the diurnal temperature range. Environmental Engineering strategies Due to the hot climatic conditions, it is estimated that the cooling load of the Cultural Centre will be significantly high. They can be reduced through a combination of passive measures as described above and environmental engineering solutions. Ventilation earth tubes and labyrinth will pre-cool the air prior to entering the building. The strategy will significantly reduce the running costs, CO2 emissions and payback period. Cooling Plant /Solar Powered Absorption Chillers together with a cool thermal store can also be high energy efficient in meeting the cooling load. With a very high solar irradiation there are also opportunities of introducing concentrated solar power off site as part of the whole Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City Development. This will increase the sustainability credentials of the whole development while reducing the oil dependency. On Site Energy Generation Photovoltaic panels integrated into canopies to provide both shading and generating electricity. Solar hot water panels integrated into buildings envelopes. 2.12 Environmental Engineering and Sustainability Wind catchers to prevailing winds and enhancing microclimate conditions of the central space. They can be effective to provide natural ventilation for buildings too.
MicroclimateCourtyard building typology to provide local shading Vegetation/ native planting for passive cooling and shading Water features to provide evaporative cooling Heavy weight building elements to provide thermal mass and night cooling ventilation Narrow street to provide shading Evaporative cooling towers to enhance microclimates conditions of the central space. The water used in the cooling towers will come from a recycling system.
Concept DesignGeographically in a land of 'flat' topography minor undulations acquire greater significance. We have taken inspiration from examples such as the Mutla region of the country where the Multa Ridge provides a sticking reference point in an otherwise flat landscape. We have used this language to create a plinth of accommodation with a flat plateaued summit onto which certain of the key performance venues sit. The plinth itself houses the majority of exhibition spaces for the gallery and museum etc and is ideally suited to such functions which required the strict control of lighting conditions.
The plateau by contrast forms a base onto which the key performance space of the theatre, screening room, conference centre and children's theatre sit. As befits their 'performance' function, the main ones of these are expressed as dramatic and dynamic forms reminiscent of the historic Dhows of the region used so extensively for trade and pearl diving. While this plinth houses the majority of accommodation it also provides enclosure to the unique internal 'cultural oasis'. With its own micro-climate giving protection from strong winds and extreme heat this central sunken garden space is accessed via deeply shaded ravines through the plinth. It provides 4000sqm of lush, cool and water filled public meeting, exhibition and leisure space. It also houses a number of pavilions containing restaurants and retail as well as possibly, in addition to the brief, a 100 seat planetarium in reference to Kuwaits cultural and scientific relationship with the night sky.
The oasis is fully enclosed and the separate elements of the plinth and plateau are unified by a latticework geometrically patterned roof structure supported on tree-like timber columns which spring from the base of the oasis floor. These trees support 'lily pads' of varying sizes which help shade the space below as the tent traditionally has for desert dwellers for generations. These are also uplit in the evening with varying coloured lights to provided a beautiful artificial sky. The 'tree' structures are also used externally on the plateau and down the sides of the plinth as free standing individual structures to provide local shading to those in the amphitheatre for example.


                 Ph.D. in Technologies for the Exploitation
                 of the Cultural Heritage .
                 Senior Lecturer in the Dept. of Architecture

                 College of Engineering , University of Mosul 
                 Mosul - Iraq .

E-mail:        emadhanee@yahoo.com
Tel :           +964 (0)770 164 93 74


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