Yarmouk Cultural Centre 2016

As a parallel event to the first representation of Kuwait at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, the first conference on modern building heritage took place in Kuwait. The event included a series of round-table debates between architecture and planning practitioners and the local community. The success of this event triggered several years of research that are now exhibited in a double volume book, Modern Architecture Kuwait 1949-89 under the patronage of Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah with the support of Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences.

During the course of the Modern Architecture Kuwait 1949-89 exhibition, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah will be hosting a series of architecture debates with local and foreign practitioners. This series intends to clarify information to the local community and explode common misconceptions regarding national architecture. The uncertain relationship with Kuwait’s national history and architectural heritage is a major loss for the country and a missed opportunity to investigate the nation’s “modern” state foundation. The magnitude of this problem is demonstrated by the fact that since this research was initiated at least three major buildings within the study have been demolished to create space for high-rise office buildings, while others have been deeply modified or covered with aluminium cladding. These apparently uncorrelated incidents, described through previously little-known information, are fundamental to providing tentative answers to a series of hypothetical questions: How were architectural design processes and practices developed from the early 1950s to the present? How was and is architecture practiced in the absence of historical heritage, major local architectural references and strong morphological elements?

The goal of these debates is to deepen the knowledge of the city’s built environment, with the declared intention of providing information on contemporary architectural and urban practice as well as the city’s future development.

Buildings And Building Culture In Kuwait, 10 April

Moderator: Ricardo Camacho. Debaters: Nasser Abulhasan | Roberto Fabbri

The act of building and re-building is part of a post-oil communal behaviour in Kuwait: Is it a need for building something “new” or the fascination with building something modern? What is modern? The word modern encompasses the idea of demolishing something old in order to make space for something new. This principle that leads us to demolish old buildings in order to create new modern buildings still exists, but at what cost?


NASSER ABULHASAN. Principal of AGi Architects; Doctor in Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design (USA), specialises in sustainable developments in arid climates. Nasser has extensive experience in the design and implementation of new communities and has worked on numerous high profile master-plan projects in the Middle East. His background in sustainability ensures efficiency in both approach and design to enhance and create evolving responses between people, buildings and their environment. His tendency to challenge situations, offers further creative possibilities where boundaries are crossed, dynamic interrelationships are formed and the limitations of cultures and fields are transposed.


ROBERTO FABBRI is an architect, researcher, author and exhibition designer of Modern Architecture Kuwait: 1949-1989. He graduated at the University of Florence and received his Ph.D. from the University of Bologna, where he has also taught design courses. He alternates professional practice with theoretical studies with his research interests focusing on modern and contemporary architectural design. He has contributed to several international seminars and conferences, has been published in international journals and recently released a monograph on the architectural work of Max Bill. He is currently working for the United Nations Development Programme on the display of the Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah galleries and collection at the Kuwait National Museum.
For the year 2013 – 2014 he was Visiting Researcher at the American University of Kuwait – Center for Gulf Studies.