Posted by: Jasem Nadoum | August 26, 2009

Times Square, Kuwait

Recently, I have noticed something interesting with the giant billboards around the city. Television stations are actively and competitively advertising their Ramadan shows. This phenomena is an exciting one. Kuwait is the most active in the region when it comes to the entertainment industry and with a multitude of new shows coming to us these days it’s only logical that TV stations try to attract as many viewers as possible. But what if we take this a step further; think of year-round billboards dedicated to show business. Kuwait is very active in the entertainment business, we produce TV shows heavily prior to the month of Ramadan, and almost half of them air again after the Ramadan. We produce plays throughout the year, and sometimes even movies. This advertising can potentially translate into an urban communication tool.

times_square_25

I am thinking of Times Square in New York City. When you arrive at Times Square you are instantly at different zone and place. It’s as if you’re not in New York City anymore but in a bright and unreal place. The eye candy of Broadway shines and the gigantic flashing lights are so enticing that your eyes unintentionally gaze upon them rather than seeing where your heading. However, Times Square isn’t really a square. I remember being a bit disappointed when i first experienced it. It is in fact a leftover space between buildings that have two triangles opposing each other with some pedestrian spaces left behind. The islands between the streets that make up those triangles happened to be on Broadway where all the theaters are located. The show producers used this space because it was the most convenient to showcase their productions. All other streets are very linear with no chance of someone taking a glimpse while in a car or even walking. It was smart of them to have transformed that leftover and unique space into what is now one of the hottest tourist spots not only in New York city but in the entire world. That experience has changed my perception of the so called ‘square’. People have an innate ability to use public space in very imaginative ways. It becomes a stimulus for development and cultural evolution.

Why can’t this can happen here, since we are the pioneers in the entertainment business in the region? We should nominate a space in the city to transform it into a year round show case of works done locally, maybe even some big international productions. A sort of Entertainment District where art house film theaters and drama schools can provide some much needed culture and art.

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Responses

  1. Jasem, I nominate the space where 4th ring road and Salem al-Mubarak street meet. I mentioned this before, but I still feel that whole street should become a linear landscape park. The large plaza which overlooks 4th ring road can be as loud and as visually exciting as possible. I’m curious to see if we can think of a better nominee for such a plaza.

  2. Jean nouvel proposed a square similar in character to times square for the Cultural center project at Kuwait city.

    Check the animation of the video around the (1:16) minute:

  3. What’s the point of creating a focal point – or a tourist attraction – only to be neglected when it’s out of fashion? Fahad Al Salem Street is a good example. I’ve seen some photos of the street in the 60s when it looked beautiful… Look at it now: It’s a laundry line!

    It’s one thing bringing this thinking to the table – but for it to work, we must inject the idea of maintenance into our society’s psyche. The idea of appreciating something as it gains more value being part of our everyday life. Not watching it deteriorate and disintegrate before our eyes and say/do nothing.

    I hope to see the day when not only do we aspire to have the right ingredients in our country – but to want to keep them here!

  4. Bu Yousef, I need a post to answer your question. Maintenance is kept when its profitable, I agree that Fahad Al-Salem street was left and ignored and now its in a state of ruins, but the street was facing a tough competition from the new trend of shopping, and that trend is the mall.
    What I am proposing is something that generates money and attracts people, therefore would be kept in excellent condition in order to keep generating money, think of the Salhiya Complex just off Fahad Al-Salem street. It maintained its status cause its making money.

    will elaborate on this point more in a post.

  5. Do please address the subject of Maintenance. You’re right Salhiya is a great example and very well maintained (my office was there for 3 years) and it’s not just that they make money. Other places make money too – but Salhiya’s maintenance is what I see in places like the better parts of London. A small example is that the brass was polished DAILY!

    Looking forward to your elaboration.


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