Posted by: Barrak Al-Babtain | September 7, 2009

Bollards in Kuwait

Mark from 248am posted this image of bollards being installed outside his office building. They are spread out wide enough to allow for bicycles and pedestrians to pass through, but not cars. Ostensibly, the reason for that would be to discourage parking on the side walks and encourage pedestrian traffic. That seems to be a good enough reason to install these, however it does raise a lot more questions which should have been answered before the bollards were installed.

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  1. Are there sufficient parking spaces for cars in the area for visitors and employees? Are they within walking distance?
  2. Is it comfortable to walk in the new sidewalk on a hot afternoon? If not, are they installing shading devices and benches to alleviate the stress?
  3. How would emergency services reach the building? Will they be forced to stop in the middle of the road, blocking traffic? Is there a gap in the bollards for them to get inside?
  4. If this is a government initiative and is to be implemented throughout the city has a tender for the project been presented? Who has decided on the aesthetic of the bollards and why have they chosen a Victorian look that has no historical reference in Kuwait? Are will still affected by colonialism? Why not a simple, timeless, stainless steel rod?
  5. Based on the image, the installation seems to be very imprecise. It looks like they’re already bolted down, but they don’t look straight to me. I’m also curious to see how they articulate the detailing between the bollard base and the rest of the concrete pavement. I hope they don’t just leave it naked like that. Also, in the image the pavement is actually raised above the street level, which makes it highly unlikely that it’s being abused for parking anyway, unless there is a little ramp somewhere out of view.

It is always a good idea to have bollards protecting sensitive areas of a building and high value targets; embassies, jewelery shops, banks, etc. However, I must question the logic of employing this technique around every congested street in Kuwait. Where will all the cars go? Unless this is part of a comprehensive solution which addresses pedestrian comfort, parking availability, aesthetics and emergency services then I suggest that they stop with whatever they have already installed and use it as an experiment. After a year the problems that will undoubtedly arise will become clear and if they can be resolved then the experiment can expand further. Retractable bollards should be part of the experiment, maybe to allow for parking at night and weekends, or for emergency situations. We should not force this initiative on a large scale and live with the consequences. It can be a good thing if we do it right, otherwise it’s only a way for certain people to make some money.

Update: Mark sent us these images. Wow, this is just too stupid. The pavement of the entire block is raised above the ground, so there’s really no point in installing these. This just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. The whole point of raising the pavement was to separate it from the street. These things are a redundant eyesore. I don’t think anyone can argue that they look good. If you have a budget to clean up and beautify the place why not just replace the broken pavement, add benches and shading, plant some trees or whatever. This is just wrong. I want to break them. Thanks for sharing this, Mark.

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Responses

  1. The last thing they take into consideration in Kuwait planning is parking and if they plan to make a parking structure, somehow its never built! We have the best plans and regulations but somehow everything seems to fail at implementation!

  2. I will take some more pictures tomorrow and email them to you. These bollards are located all around Muthana Complex (ALL around literally). Its also located all around the block in front of Muthana the one with Starbucks and boots. This picture was taken in front of BKME on Fahed al Salem street facing Gulf Bank.

    Regarding the installation consistency, its a mess. Will show you with the pictures tomorrow but they are not all on the same level. I saw a few that were located on top of a brick that was around a brick higher above ground then the surrounding bricks.

    There is no way these were installed to stop people from parking on the curb because

    a) its a really high curb

    b) I have never seen a single car in the past 5 years park on any of the curbs around these two blocks

    I don’t think they are to protect pedestrians since the 3 out of 4 sides of the Muthana block are occupied by parking spots and very few people walk on those curbs. 3 out of 4 sides of the block that has starbucks and boots also is occupied by parking and very few people walk on the curb behind that block which is disgusting to walk on anyway.

  3. The biggest bollards I ever saw in Kuwait are in Souk Sharq carpet. They are big, round, green, and I be afraid of them.

  4. did I say ‘carpet’ – well I meant carpark!

  5. even someone like me who doesn’t know ish about politics & stuff believe that this is some kind of big fail “monaqa9a” just like those hideous plastic colorful fake trees we see everywhere around the city, u know what i mean…

  6. I know a little about this. The municipality, in exchange for exemptions in building regulations, asked the investors building towers in Kuwait city to pay the bill for beautifying the area surrounding their blocks. Implemented was on stages starting with the municipality building block, then onto the souq mubarakiya area, and I guess now the Muthana block. They would eventually cover the entire city with new granite block pavements, street lights, bollards and fountains.

    Not much studies were done by any party so I doubt any one gave any thought toward the effectiveness of these bollards. Since they were doing this for free in exchange for exemptions they presented the least expensive study they can get away with. Its sad, one more golden opportunity to do things right lost again.

  7. Took some pictures today, you can get them here:

    http://www.unex-t.com/poles.zip

    As you can see their are some areas where even if you had Jennifer Aniston standing there nude you couldn’t beautify it yet alone with these bollards.

  8. It looks like some twisted mind’s vanity program

  9. Imposing that Kuwait City become a car-free-zone would be the perfect fix for the congestion problems. We can use the current “Green Belt” to house underground multistory parking facilities combined with multiple mass transit systems to seriously clear up the congestion in the heart of our country.

    Current Baladiya building codes are extremely primitive for Kuwait City, they only deal with specific high streets and historical locations. Tougher, analyzed codes could help clean up Kuwait effectively.

    Take a walk around the Kuwait Stock Market building, the streets in that area are not what you would call streets for the most expensive land in the country, the cobbles used are generic to 90% of all other Kuwaiti streets and the streetlamps are even less of quality than the rest of the country. After taking a walk there, you will notice that nothing in that area really signifies the qualities needed for that land to be of that high of a market value, for it not for political and historical/financial reasons, i think Salim AlMubarak Street would be worth a great deal more.

  10. Faisal, if that’s true, and it seems like it is, then it’s very unfortunate. A better way to have done that would be for the government to simply fine the developers for their decision to part with regulation (or force them to comply). The money could be used in whatever way they see fit. You can’t let profit-making developers care about the city. They don’t. So we shouldn’t expect them to really do the best job.

    bumo, that doesn’t seem like a good idea to me. We don’t need that big an overhaul, as the space between buildings can easily accommodate cars and pedestrians. The problem is that no thought has been given towards improving the pedestrian experience. A network of public transport (underground metro) is critical. Once the 1st ring road is finally completed, we’ll have a well defined island that can be controlled and regulated. Every public transport node should be within walking distance (250m) of another one. This, along with a congestion charge for entering the island by car, would give people an incentive and an alternative to driving. What i’m saying is that there are ways of doing this, but you still need to be able to drive in there for supply and emergencies, you can’t shut it off completely from cars.

    Well, they have been changing the street lamps into the more energy efficient and, in my opinion, better looking ‘orange’ lights. So there are some improvements. I don’t know if the people making these decisions are really qualified in terms of design, and i’d like to know if there is some sort of regulatory process that oversees decisions such as this bollard situation. I know we can complain to get them removed, but I think it would be better if there was some sort of qualified ‘design police’ that would select and approve such projects.

  11. It seems that globalization strikes again.

  12. wow, they’re gone! All of them, not a single one is left around my office block.
    http://www.248am.com/mark/interesting/where-did-they-go/

  13. They install these things to stop people like me from parking. When all the spots are taken at AUK I park on the pavement…

  14. Sorry if this is off topic (im having trouble finding info on this elsewhere), but does anyone know if there is an English version of the Kuwait Building Regulations? If so, where can it be found?
    Thanks!


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