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?

[more info.] The Winter School Middle East مدرسة الشرق الأوسط الشتوية

The Winter School of Middle East is launching an intensive programme (full day/daily workshop) from 20-30th of January, in which the participants will be spread to three panels:

1. Becoming-Lives of Diwaniyah:
Tutors: Patricia Reed & Deema Alghunaim
We will explore the particular situation of Diwaniyah in both theory and material experimentation through the analytical triad of the lived, perceived and conceived (Henri Lefebvre). Through this field-based research and discussion, a spatio-political understanding of Diwaniyah can be mapped, perhaps only partially so. A lived map of the plight of Diwaniyah includes not only physical and spatial frameworks, but also the choreography and modes of sociality/speech acts it engenders. Diwaniya, as such, will be examined as an aesthetic phenomenon, a site of and for experience. We shall complicate our ‘lived map’ with the juxtaposition of another triad of hospitality, dissensus and potentiality, in order to arrive at speculative scenarios of Diwaniyah, mapping not only the lived, but also the becoming-life/lives of its future articulations.
2. Spatial Agency: Situating the Political:
Tutors: Kenny Cupers & Hussa Alsuwaidan
What is and can be the space of politics in our contemporary urban world? This research studio focuses on the spatial agency of the Diwaniyah in the transformation of Kuwaiti urban life. As a designated locus of political life, the Diwaniyah is often portrayed as the traditional backbone of Kuwaiti society. How then could this age-old architectural type serve as an instrument of the rapid modernization Kuwait witnessed over the past century? To understand its particular spatial agency, we will 1) begin by mapping the Diwaniyah as a concrete architectural space in relation to the changing urban fabric of Kuwait; 2) examine its role in the construction and transformation of other social and spatial institutions such as the family and the local government; 3) outline the spatial strategies that have shaped its success in the face of social change.

3. Studio Diwaniyah.
Tutors: Ralf Pflugfelder, Magnus Nilsson & Batool Ashoor
This spatial design studio will literally take on the format and physicality of a Diwaniyah. Within this discursive, social and relational environment, the students will be asked to design, build and implement an enabler and/or disabler of communication. It is the explicit intent that these interventions should stand in an intense reciprocal relationship to each other. Studio Diwaniyah will be conceived as a 1:1 experimental laboratory.

Each of these panels will be studying The Diwaniyah as a spatio-political phenomenon and will be submitting a presentation of their work at the end of the workshop. In addition, there will be daily evening lectures during the time of the event within the field of this topic in which will be open for public.

The workshop should attract architects, artists, students of variety of ages and also would welcome researchers from different fields of humanities, politics or economy. It is mainly an architectural programme but it aspires an interdisciplinary platform. 

I wish this would be a better overview of the subject.

best regards,

my blog is dying

My blog is sick, and it seems it will die soon.
My notebooks are revolting over it, also my audio recorder.

I don't even feel like reading blogs, even those interest me..
I would like to have a time machine different from internet..

My house?

I thought once that internet is freedom
Now I think it gave me a free time, without free space.

I've been recently realizing that having a blog made people think they have the right to ask any question in mind, and have the right to feel anything towards a certain blogger.

I realized also that it made some family members understand me better, but still

I feel that pain of a student in her first day in school, in the last one..

I am lost in this inter net, I want to leave, I have no time to meet Oz but I would love to visit the wicked witch of the west in Apollo Victoria Theatre.

Leaving the internet in this time of history is like wearing a burqa'a_ although the burqa'a has a similar quality of internet like having an intimate relationship with a screen.

The internet also took off the spark from Queen Grimhilde and her marvellous Mirror, and changes the genre of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from fables to science fiction.

Looking back to my sentences... how possessive I am, associating all those verbs to myself.

Verbs do not deserve to be possessed.


Mobile Curse

I was shopping for food,
I turned it silent
They continued on calling,
but they were silent
This is what it said.

At 4 pm I no longer have a car
She drove me to a café,
She called, I answered;
until 6 pm I answered,
then I called

"I am in the library,
pick me up, please. I have no car,
the book shop? OK ...
"listen! turn left, listen!....."
it turned off; low battery

"Why should I take it with me? it's off"
"There is a charger here"
Two hours later, still off
I wanted to call someone,
but it's off

I have another car now,
I also have a charger
I don't want to use it,
it's better be off;
not silent, nor public

Off and away from a dilemma,
of answering and calling,
of sending and receiving
I have no car
I have no mobile

I closed one social network account yesterday,
I closed two, 5 months ago
Becoming claustrophobic I am,
from virtual social life, or is it? I don't know
becoming a plant I am
only weather I want to know

I picked some grapes from the fridge,
apricot-flavoured yoghurt,
and tea bags:
green, white and black
Then mobile under the daily bridge..
off to work


" IN MODERN ATHENS, the vehicles of mass transportation are called metaphorai. To go to work or come home, one takes a "metaphor"—a bus or a train. Stories could also take this noble name: every day, they traverse and organize places; they select and link them together; they make sentences and itineraries out of them. They are spatial trajectories.

In this respect, narrative structures have the status of spatial syntaxes. By means of a whole panoply of codes, ordered ways of proceeding and constraints, they regulate changes in space (or moves from one place to another) made by stories in the form of places put in linear or interlaced series: from here (Paris), one goes there (Montargis); this place (a room) includes another (a dream or a memory); etc. More than that, when they are represented in descriptions or acted out by actors (a foreigner, a city-dweller, a ghost), these places are linked together more or, less tightly or easily by "modalities" that specify the kind of passage leading from the one to the other: the transition can be given an "epistemological" modality concerning knowledge (for example: "it's not certain that this is the Place de la Republique"), an "alethic" one concerning existence (for example, "the land of milk and honey is an improbable end- point"), or a deontic one concerning obligation (for example: "from this point, you have to go over to that one").... These are only a few notations among many others, and serve only to indicate with what subtle complexity stories, whether everyday or literary, serve us as means of mass transportation, as metaphorai.

Every story is a travel story—a spatial practice. For this reason, spatial practices concern everyday tactics, are part of them, from the alphabet of spatial indication ("It's to the right," "Take a left"), the beginning of a story the rest of which is written by footsteps, to the daily "news" ("Guess who I met at the bakery?"), television news reports ("Teheran: Khomeini is becoming increasingly isolated ... "), legends (Cinderellas living in hovels), and stories that are told (memories and fiction of foreign lands or more or less distant times in the past). These narrated adventures, simultaneously producing geographies of actions and drift-ing into the commonplaces of an order, do not merely constitute a "supplement" to pedestrian enunciations and rhetorics. They are not satisfied with displacing the latter and transposing them into the field of language. In reality, they organize walks. They make the journey, before or during the time the feet perform it."

~Michel de Certeau / The Practice of Everyday Life 1984, Part III: Spatial Practices, Chapter IX: Spatial Stories, p:115-116

The First Paragraph Tetralogy Experiment

Here I'm trying to associate the first paragraph of each of the following works together, not to compare but to understand a certain pattern beyond their historical or personal disposition.

Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities 1859

IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incerdulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way _ in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Franz Kafka
The Metamorphosis 1912

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. He was lying on his hard, as it were armor-plated, back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his domelike brown belly divided into stiff arched segments on top of which the bed quilt could hardly keep in position and was about to slide off completely. His numerous legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of his bulk, waved helplessly before his eyes.

Félix Guattari
The Three Ecologies 1989

The Earth is undergoing a period of intense techno-scientific transformations. If no remedy is found, the ecological disequilibrium this has generated will ultimately threaten the continuation of life on the planet's surface. Alongside these upheavals, human modes of life, both individual and collective, are progressively deteriorating. Kinship networks tend to be reduced to a bare minimum; domestic life is being poisoned by the gangrene of mass media consumption; family and married life are frequently 'ossified' by a sort of standardization of behaviour; and neighbourhood relations are generally reduced to their meanest expression . . . It is the relationship between subjectivity and its exteriority - be it social, animal, vegetable or Cosmic - that is compromised in this way, in a sort of general movement of implosion and regressive infantalization. Otherness [l'altérité] tends to lose all its asperity. Tourism, for example, usually amounts to no more than a journey on the spot, with the same redundancies of images and behaviour. Political groupings and executive authorities appear to be totally incapable of understanding the full implications of these issues.

Gilles Deleuze
Immanence: A Life 1995

What is a transcendental field? it can be distinguished from experience in that it doesn't refer to an object or belong to a subject (empirical representation). It appears therefore as a pure stream of a-subjective consciousness, a pre-reflexive impersonal consciousness without a self. It may seem curious that the transcendental be defined by such immediate givens: we will speak of a transcendental empiricism in contrast to everything that makes up the world of the subject and the object. There is something wild and powerful in this transcendental empiricism in contrast to everything that is of course not the element of sensation (simple empiricism), for sensation is only a break within the flow of absolute consciousness It is, rather, however close two sensations may be, the passage from one to the other as becoming, as increase or decrease power (virtual quantity). Must we then define the transcendental field by a pure immediate consciousness with neither object nor self, as a movement that neither begins nor ends?