Kuwait has forgotten the value of a good public space. The built environment of Kuwait City does not reflect the inherent character and tradition of its citizens. Kuwaitis are a very social people, yet the city has no truly public space. This spatial void has been filled with private malls and developments which have corrupted the Kuwaiti culture. Why have historical public spaces, which have been integral to urban life, now become obsolete? What are some solutions for regeneration and spatial evolution that can revive the forgotten idea of a public space?
This is a wonderful video called ‘The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces’ and is the companion film to the book of the same name. It is a revolutionary study of the urban plazas of New York. I would recommend anyone wanting to understand the value of the public urban spaces and life that is missing from Kuwait to watch it. It attempts to show how basic human nature and intuition perceives and judges how good a public space is. The closest thing we have to this are the densely packed cafes of certain malls and the outdoor space of AlSalhiya. Are there any other spaces which can be considered to be successful small urban spaces? What kind of social life do they allow to happen? Which spaces in Kuwait City have the potential to become successful and what kind of intervention would be needed?
I personally think that the linear plaza between the end of 4th ring road and Salem alMubarak street is ripe for renewal. There is a very large amount of pedestrian traffic and the narrowness of the site allows for plenty of shading. Of course, it would be transformed into a pedestrian only promenade. Instead of the jam-packed parking scene, I would design a long, linear park that would incorporate plenty of seating and shading. The shops would benefit from this renewal even though the cars are no longer there. Once a pedestrian culture is initiated, this linearity would begin to extend further down Salem alMubarak street and become part of Marina Mall and Salmiya Park.