Building on Jasem’s post a few days ago, i’d like to talk further about the responsibilities of an architect in Kuwait and the perception people have of our profession. Here are a few of the comments from that post:
“Another problem we have here (this is in regard to the client’s response …. maybe) is that our way of life and the rules we have in Kuwait encourages a conservative , practicle buildings for us to live in … since many families are jammed under one roof … you have no option but to think SPACE! … and hence the box house…. it is not that people may not appreciate the beauty and creativity of Architecture … but that it has a small room in their life …”
““.Who every designed those house knew what they were doing and who every wanted them liked them, they just wanted a piece of say Italy in Kuwait…””
In Kuwait, as with the rest of the world, there are good clients and there are bad clients. We may have far more bad ones than the rest of the world, but there’s a reason for that. Kuwait is a young and immature country. Think of it this way, when Kuwait was a baby in the 60’s it needed protective foster parents to dress it and feed it. The British. The first batch of modern homes were stunning statements of architecture that still stand proud today.
When the baby grew into a kid it started to assert itself more and began choosing what to wear. It rejected some of the ideas it was taught because they were boring and incomprehensible. They started experimenting with strange designs that really didn’t make any sense. The parents were too busy with work to care and left the kids all alone without guidance or discipline.
Today, Kuwait is a rich, awkward teenager. These are weird times. Some kids don’t care how they look and just want to eat and be entertained. You can see these obese houses everywhere, the big, boring boxes that line almost every new street. Then there are the self conscious teenagers. They don’t know who they are and are looking everywhere to find themselves, changing their look often, not really know what they’re doing. They sometimes do something profoundly stylish, usually by accident, but the experiments are mostly awkward and obscene. You can see these strange, incoherent houses here and there. Mismatched materials, spaces completely out of scale and a total mess of architectural language.
Image (and nightmares) via Z District
The good thing is that the next step, adulthood, is usually accompanied by a strong sense of self-awareness and control. Kuwait is still a young and brash teenager. We can’t expect it to settle down and explore a rich, vibrant, Kuwaiti architectural language. It still hasn’t found itself, and to do so it needs time.
As good parents we should guide the child into a happy, safe and secure adulthood by encouraging the potential and fighting the excess. A good education helps, and that’s why we need to keep on exploring architecture here in a way that everyone can easily understand. In the end, though, growing up needs time. We can’t be arrogant and demand instant change and reject ignorance as a sign of permanent failure. Everyone makes mistakes. Especially teenagers.