A two-stage international design competition recently concluded for the new headquarters of The Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS), the country’s leading organization for advancing science, technology, and innovation. KÂAT Architects and Yalin Architectural Design were shortlisted as finalists in the second stage of the competition for their collaborative entry, a concept which anchors the future within the past. Drawing inspiration from the local traditions, climate, and urban fabric, the group places their design firmly in the context of its location in Kuwait City.
The competition included the design for two buildings, KFAS Headquarters and KFAS Conference Center, as well as an urban planning and landscaping component to complete the complex. Entrants' goal was to create a model example for future socio-economic developments in the Gulf Region of Kuwait. KÂAT and Yalin partnered and worked together to develop their concept, which advanced to the final stage of the competition.
Kuwait’s dramatic landscape, harsh desert climate, and the vernacular solutions which have emerged from them were a source of inspiration for the team. The designers made a conscious effort to truly integrate and project these references forward, rather than merely utilizing them on a superficial level.
The urban design of the complex is integral to the project, developing a varying network of open, semi-open, and closed spaces to create interactions between people and tie the buildings together. The layout of the master plan engages the seafront and provides opportunities for additional connections in the future. A Science Park encourages usage of the outdoor public spaces, surrounded by different active and passive zones to create variety.
The design team aims to create a new urban topography, surrounded by a series of urban functions and providing a continuous connection between the buildings. Different courtyards and openings hold segments of the program to be discovered. Inhabitants of the space are encouraged to observe and experiment with the natural elements surrounding them.
The stacked and layered pattern of spaces developed in the urban landscape design extends onto the buildings as well. The canopies on top of the buildings form gaps, terraces, atria, and courtyards; they also serve to unify the two structures while their interior organizations and hierarchies differ. The ground floors of both buildings are imagined as an extension of the urban landscape as it passes through and beyond them.