CIV/NO.5Foreign Architecture/Domestic Policy

CIV/NO.4Objects for a Painless Past

CIV/NO.2Possibility of a Cheap Ecology

CIV/NO.1Between East & West: A Gulf

Foreign Architecture/Domestic Policy

Kuwait owns and manages approximately five thousand gas stations across Europe. Under the not-so-subtle company name ‘Q8’, these stations began as an investment to secure a market for the country’s oil export, but their role continued to grow as they became a key player in funding and lobbying against the occupation of Kuwait prior to the Gulf War. Q8 is not simply a series of serving stations across the European landscape, but a road map for the nation’s political and economic autonomy.

For a country of less than a million people in 1973 which was exporting 10% of the world’s oil, the narrative of state is inextricably tied to the projections of wealth and identity outwards. The adoption of Q8 as a brand provided the perfect balance of corporate neutrality and nationalistic projection, a way of selling Kuwait without risking hostility or suspicion in light of a post-OPEC crisis world. Although the vision was always that of a politically neutral branding of Kuwait, during the first Gulf War however, the stations were called to play a political role for the first time, acting as a source of funding for protests and lobbying movements for the liberation of the country. The stations then no longer remained nameless moments in a nebulous petro-landscape but in effect mini-embassies for the Gulf state: an extended architectural network of way stations manned by citizens-by-employment that had a vested interest in Kuwait/Q8’s stability. The design of Q8 is an exercise in imagining a different citizenry, taking what is often perceived as generic infrastructure and using it to create an economic and political co-dependency in service of state-oriented longevity.

Design:
Civil Architecture
(Ali Karimi & Hamed Bukhamseen)

RESEARCH TEAM:
RANA AJRAWI, HALAH ALESSA, LATIFA ALESSA

Photography:
Houssam Flayhan, Aziz Mutawa

CATALOGUE + GRAPHIC DESIGN:
LOB.tf

Objects for a Painless Past

The installation presents Bahrain’s forgotten monumental maligned generation of governmental architecture.

The beginning of the 20th century saw a series of somewhat appealing buildings built by the Bahraini Public Works Department. Many of these have since been eradicated or are about to be. We have recreated five of these buildings in Muharraq.

We look to these buildings not for their quality, not with nostalgia or longing. But in recreating them as objects, we allow ourselves the opportunity to exorcise the memory of poverty, uncertainty and colonial rule. By presenting these five buildings stripped of all but their architectural quality, we ask if their gradual eradication is the only way to address their troubled history. Five objects that had to be made to allow us the luxury of a painless past.

Design:
Civil Architecture
(Ali Karimi & Hamed Bukhamseen)

Photography:
Civil Architecture
(Ali Karimi & Hamed Bukhamseen)

Shirt/Catalogue Design:
LOB.tf

Possibility of a Cheap Ecology

As part of the Alriwaq Public Art Space installations in Bahrain, a floodlight and public seating were installed in a dying palm garden near the arts district of Adliya. Floodlights, typically used to cheaply light soccer fields, demarcate the inaccessible or surveil spaces for security, are used on site to highlight the palm grove, and invoke a dialogue on public space. By using the floodlights, the proposal doesn’t just point to the existing possibilities for green space to be used once more, but remediates the policed landscapes of the country into moments of beauty through the use of cheap interventions as an alternative to infrastructure heavy parks.

The goal of the proposal is simple–it is to begin a conversation on unsolicited landscapes, looking less to the ‘build it they will come’ approach to public parks and more to the idea of ‘if you see it then it exists’. In creating such a small readjustment to a space, activating it by night the proposal argues that it is the minimum intervention needed to make one notice landscape–to recognize discarded space and a space worthy of a visit.

Within the space, a publication is made available featuring a photo series highlighting the residual greenscapes of Bahrain alternating between the tranquil light of the day shots and the harsh floodlights at night. The photo series is accompanied by a text delving into how a security measure shed light on the possibility of new landscapes and ecologies.

Design
civil architecture
(Hamed Bukhamseen, Ali Ismail Karimi)

Photography
Aziz Mutawa

Between East & West: A Gulf

The third Kuwaiti participation at the 15th Venice International Architecture Biennale, the pavilion titled Between East and West: A Gulf looks past Kuwait’s borders to the contested hydrography of the Arabian/Persian Gulf and proposes a new master-plan for the region. In an area of physical, religious, and political division, the Kuwaiti pavilion tells the story of the Gulf’s islands and the possibilities they hold for a joint territorial project. The pavilion, located in the Arsenale, features a catalog of over 300 islands in the Gulf elaborating on their histories and character. In addition to this compilation, the pavilion features design proposals for a selection of these islands–made from young and established architectural practices in the region–aimed at how a masterplan could be implemented across these contested waters.

The third in a series of architecture pavilions which explores the national in Kuwait, this chapter considers the country’s role in the region as part of a larger conversation towards peace and cooperation. An unprecedented initiative for a national participation from the Gulf, the subject of this year’s exhibition was chosen by the NCCAL for its aim to initiate a conversation amongst the countries that border this body of water, and to imagine a collective project to unify the region.

The exhibition has been commissioned by Zahra Ali Baba of the NCCAL (National Council for Culture Arts and Letters, Kuwait). The curators are Hamed Bukhamseen from Kuwait and Ali Karimi from Bahrain. Accompanying the pavilion is a research publication both in English and in Arabic which is available within the exhibition space.

For more detailed information about the participants, the pavilion, or to view the catalog please visit: www.kuwaitpavilion2016.com 

COMMISSIONER:
ZAHRA ALI BABA
NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR CULTURE ARTS AND LETTERS/KUWAIT (NCCAL)

Curators:
Civil Architecture (HAMED BUKHAMSEEN, ALI KARIMI)

Art Director, Graphic Designer:
FAHAD ALHUNAIF, WOOSEOK SHUR

PUBLICATION COORDINATOR/EDITOR:
MUNEERAH ALRABE

PROJECT DESIGNERS & RESEARCH ARCHITECTS:
SAPHIYA ABU AL-MAATI, SHAHAB ALBAHAR, MAI ALBUSAIRI, NADA ALQALLAF, RAWAN ALSAFFAR, YOUSEF AWAAD HUSSEIN

FINANCIAL TEAM:
MOHAMMED AL AJMI, MOHAMMED AL JAMEEL

ADMINISTRATIVE TEAM:
ABDULLAH ALBEESHI (HEAD OF TEAM), NOORA AL MUSALLAM, JABER AL QALLAF, JASSIM AL SHAMALI
EXHIBITED DESIGN CONTRIBUTIONS:
AGI ARCHITECTS, BEHEMOTH PRESS WITH MATTEO MANNINI ARCHITECTS, DESIGN EARTH, ESAS ARCHITECTS, FORTUNE PENNIMAN WITH STUDIO BOUND, PAD10, X- ARCHITECTS

WRITTEN CONTRIBUTIONS:
FAHAD BISHARA, AHMED MAKIA, FATMA SAHLAWI & RASHID BIN SHABIB, RAND ABDULJABBAR & MAITHA MEZROUI, NESRIN TABATABAI & BABAK AFRASSIABI, NOOR BOUSHEHRI, ABDULATIF AL-MISHARI

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