Posted by: Barrak Al-Babtain | May 24, 2009

Kuwait Metro: The Map

Here is an updated (version 1.1.2) map of our proposal for the Kuwait Metro project. This design was based heavily on the Kuwait Overland Transport Union map. The major problem that was evident in that proposal were two parallel lines that went north/south on either side of Al-Rumaithiya and Salwa. We felt that was very excessive and that only one line would suffice. The Salmiya line was split into two, with Bayan becoming a rather important Park and Ride station that would serve the surrounding residential areas. There are other minor changes, such as stations being added and removed. Examples being Liberation Tower merged with the Central Bus Station and Al-Mohalab Mall merged with Qadsiya Stadium.

KuwaitMetro112

The current iteration of the design has a total track of 98.7km, with 44.8km (45%) being underground. We will in the future explain the design in much greater detail, dedicating a post to every line and interchange. We will also explore the possibilities for urban renewal as a result of this weaving of a new infrastructure system and emergent nodes. In the meantime, please enjoy the map and we welcome your ideas and comments.

This is a very exciting project which will no doubt reveal a lot about our beloved city, but we proceed knowing full well the political impotence that has crippled Kuwaiti progress. We have to prove to them and to ourselves that we can imagine a better Kuwait and a brighter future.

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Responses

  1. […] out re:kuwait for more. [Link]  Print  Email May 30, […]

  2. Great blog! Where have you been hiding? Keep it up please. Ya36eekum il3afia.

  3. ee wallah where have you been hiding!!

    finally, a blog that worth adding to my feed reader
    it’s been a long time :)

  4. Such designs never exist in a vacuum. What needs to also be considered (and what makes it on a more collective scale very interesting regarding the development of Kuwait) is what happens when people step-off the platforms and begin dispersing into the surrounding townships. As there seems to be almost no proper sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, let alone a ambulatory culture in Kuwait, it’s going to be interesting to see how these transport means will be used and by whom. Bur it remains imperative that its done as, quoting from the movie ‘Field of Dreams’, “if you build it, they will come”; only by realizing the metro system will we understand what it actually entails and how it can be ‘tweaked’ to correspond better to local habits and cultural patterns…

  5. @Tom: It’s very sad that Kuwait has evolved such hostility and indifference towards pedestrians. I truly believe that the implementation of such a vast national transportation network will undoubtedly prove to be a catalyst for ambulatory behavior. However, I don’t think that it would be wise to adopt a ‘Field of Dreams’ type of situation, where through a blind faith that the system would be widely adopted and that a dense network of emergent structures would develop around the nodes. Sure, there’s a chance that it might happen spontaneously, but maybe the baseball ghosts simply never walk out of the field.

    What Kuwait lacks in terms of a supporting ‘ambulatory culture’ was the result of many factors; mainly our ravenous adoption of a car culture to shelter us during mobility. We never had the urban feedback loop that exists in London or any other major developed city. We never had the gradual urban growth where different yet interrelated modalities (such as cars, pedestrians, trains, etc) generated a rich and ultimately market driven network. We only have one mode of transportation, and we’re stuck with it; meaning it’s growth is increasingly myopic and introspective in that the only thing that informs it is automobile demand.

  6. I’m hoping this map is a draft… is Friday Market a real location, and surely there should be at least one or two stations in that vast area south of Surra

    Great blog btw… I’m adding it to my RSS feed :-)

  7. Hi Barrak,

    It’s great that there’s this type of engagement here…

    I agree. The point in the aforementioned submission is that only through committing to the realization of the project will the details of the ‘nitty-gritty’ become relevant. Once the, call them, general principles of the design are established will the implementation of the actual design, its drawing up, begin. This stage will inevitably bring forth issues which wouldn’t have been apparent earlier – and will hopefully bring about the required reciprocal occillation between the different scales and facets of such a construct.

    The implementation of a pedestrian culture in Kuwait will be difficult, but not impossible. It’s not that many generations ago that the city plan looked very different, and where ambulatory-scapes played a key role in how people moved about. If you visit Bahrain, there are still large neighbourhoods where moving by foot is still the most convenient way to get around. This type of places should be re-introduced slowly, but surely, to a select number of location in Kuwait where such patterns of movement already have a precedent, such as (I believe it’s called) Bagdad Street in Salmiya (close to the cylindrical buiding currently being demolished), or perhaps the main (high) street by the malls and the Sultan Centre. Another potential area where such development could take place is Salhiya, where the predominantly expat community does most of its movement by foot. Were it not for the new extension next to the Behbehani Complex (by the Dar Al-Funoon Gallery) this area would be ideal for an expansive pedestrianized area stretching from the water all the way downtown…

    • How would you respond to those that instinctively reject such proposals by pointing at the sun?

      I’m so glad that we started such a discussion so quickly. I was afraid that I had to get used to the sound of my voice echoing back to me. The initial discussion between Jasem and I that eventually led to the conception of this blog was that we were adamant that such walkscapes are indeed viable, if not deeply desired and even yearned for in Kuwait. We decided to to explore the city and attempt to discover that potential and present it in a visually coherent manner. The hope is that when people can see for themselves and imagine an alternative lifestyle they can empirically ascertain whether these changes will benefit society as a whole or not. I hope that you can continue to be a part of this process and that it would be an honor to continue these discussions with you for as long as they take!

      • The sun is a factor, however I can vouch, from personal experience, that one can walk perfectly comfortably in Kuwait for at least 8 months of the year. during my first stint here, which was about eight years ago, I used to daily walk from close to the Sha’ab Amusement Park, where we lived, for coffee and some thoughts to Le Notre at Al-Fanar, about a 25 minute walk one way… Too often the sun is used as an excuse to justify current (by now well established) ways of doing things rather than as a catalyst for generating or adapting new alternatives. As beings we are also surpisingly adaptable – we can get ‘used’ to things, including high (or low) temperatures…
        Heat is a factor but also a relative one. I remember, coming from somewhat an opposite end, when growing up in Finland the average temperature in our house in the winter must have been around 15 – 17 degrees. When cold, we wore a sweather instead of turning up the heat… Similar approaches can also be considered here, as the notion of comfort is somewhat flexible and context dependent. The same temperature can feel (be perceived) in very different fashion depending on the setting. +30 degrees on a sailboat is OK; +30 degrees in a small windowless office could feel suffocating…

        The sun shouldn’t be used as a justification for apathy – the comfortable months are abundant enough to engage in most outside activities and I’m sure, if we put our collective ‘wise heads’ together, we can come up with an abundance of solutions for how the ‘hot’ months could be alleviated or dealt with…

  8. @zaydoun: Actually, there are very few stops in the suburbs. Its very simple really, there just isn’t enough density there, so you won’t be expected to walk to the station. There are however, several large Park and Ride stations. What this means is that you’d have to drive to those from your house and park you car there and ride the train. There would be one in NE corner of Bayan, Qathma Club, the SE corner of Shuhada and the SW corner of Yarmouk. The point of these of course is to reduce the number of cars on the road; so you basically only drive to the closest station and then ride the train to work, so there would be progressively fewer cars on the road the closer you get to the City center.

  9. I can somehow envision a driving-experience-from-hell from your home to your nearest Park&Ride station node, especially in morning rush hour. The suburban station nodes would have to designate large areas to contain entries and approach roads; that is in addition to a huge multistory parking to fulfill the large number of cars! Has this been addressed by the designers of the metro system?

  10. @Faisal: Well, i’m not sure about the KOTU design as all the information we have from them is that old map. However, looking at potential locations for the Park and Ride stations reveals that several options are available that would provide ample space for parking and are easily accessible from major thoroughfares. We will be dedicating a future post to our study of Park and Ride.

  11. Hello Barrak,

    U r going a gr8 job keep up the good work. Just curious to know if you are related to any family members of Nissan Al Babtain Kuwait whose company Chairman is also Barrak Al Babtain

    Tks.

    All d best.

  12. @Tom: “The sun shouldn’t be used as a justification for apathy”. The other extreme is ignoring the sun completely. How many towers are built with absolutely no regard for orientation or passive cooling? There are so many towers in Kuwait where the south and west facades are a glass curtain wall. This solar ignorance is just as detrimental to the way we design as the apathy you speak of.

    @Shaclads: Thanks. Yes I am.

  13. Hi Barrak,

    I agree. the comment regarding the sun was more in reference to usage patterns than to how things are built. The application of ‘Plop Architecture’ (building without seemingly any consideration for the surrounding vernacular and context) is unfortunately very prevalent in Kuwait. This applies both to individual residences as well as larger scale development where the notion of ‘tabula rasa’ seems to be the norm rather than the exception.

  14. I wonder, why Kuwait Free Trade zone is being ignored?

  15. Well, if you look at the map you’ll notice that the Free Trade Zone is sort of peninsular. You always have to do a cost-benefit analysis to decide if it’s worth directing the route to any location. Although Line 1 does pass the Free Trade Zone on its way to the University, its going to take a massive effort to make it loop up towards Villa Moda and the Movenpick. The other question that should be asked is who benefits from this? Why would you want a station there anyway? Most of the major traffic is cargo from Shuwaikh Harbor and I don’t think that even the government buildings that are there have the density that would justify the effort.

    I personally don’t think it makes sense to include it in Line 1. That doesn’t mean it was ignored. It means that it wasn’t beneficial to the project.

  16. I think the Kuwait Metro is a great idea, but I do not know the city nearly as well as most of the people here to understand its feasability. Maybe Barrak can enlighten me?
    I am working on a project that will include a parking structure for the employees and visitors, and one of the biggest issues I did not understand before (this being my first project in the region) was something as simple as walking from the garage to the building. It will be a challenge to get the Metro in the works when it is difficult to get people to go 75 meters. The rider’s stops could be many blocks from their destination.
    By the way, I was just on the NYC subway last weekend, amazing system. Never set foot in a car my entire trip there

  17. Kuwait Metro and Rail Conference & Exhibition

    19 – 20 April 2011

    Radisson Blu Hotel

    Kuwait is on the verge of a new era in public transportation. The country is planning to develop its own rail and metro projects as part of the GCC’s wider efforts to improve public transportation networks and its connectivity with neighbors.

    Kuwait rail system will reach 550km upon completion and will cover the northern and southern parts of the country as well as critical infrastructure such as airports and railway stations. The project is part of the $25bn GCC railway project, which begins at Kuwait and runs to Muscat via Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

    The Kuwait Metro Rail is a 171km long inner city transport running across the city. 60km of the rail road will be built underground. The project will have four lines, each of which will be tendered as a separate project. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $7bn.

    Kuwait Metro and Rail Conference & Exhibition is an intensive two-day event offers a complete and comprehensive analysis of the current regulatory framework, innovative financing structures for rail projects, practical environment-friendly solutions for rail operation, and new technologies reaching the market. It will showcase new business and investment opportunities, market trends, environmental regulations, and new technologies.

    Kuwait Metro and Rail Conference & Exhibition provides an opportunity not only to keep up with the latest trends and challenges in the rail industry but also to take advantage of excellent networking opportunities. Participants will learn from the experts in the field, hear about cutting-edge research & exceptional best practices and discover the latest products and services.

    Who Should Attend?

    All rail system personnel, board members, policy makers, suppliers, consultants, and any other personnel involved with rail design, construction, operations and maintenance.

  18. line should have been extended all the way through hamad mubarak st intersection at Holiday Inn Hotel…more practical…more commuters are passing that way as i have been a frequent bus traveler ..just sayin’

  19. line 5 , i mean (:


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