Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre
Kuwait City
Award of Merit

Owner Amiri Diwan
Lead Design Firm and Civil and MEP Engineer SSH
Contractor Al Hani Construction & Trading Co.
Structural Engineer Setec Group Consulting Engineers
Lighting Design Light + Design Associate
Consultant SETEC, Theatre Project, Sandy Brown, Dunbar & Boardman, El Seed Art and Jassim Alnasrallah

Complex geometric forms inspired by Islamic architecture create a richly textured outer skin for this four-building cultural center, which includes theaters, cinemas, concert halls and conference space. The structures, covered with a steel skeleton encased in a titanium-and-glass skin that captures light and shadow, were designed to “sit like jewels within a larger public park,” says project designer SSH.

Wrapped in a weather-tight rainscreen, full-span steel envelopes cover a series of independent concrete buildings and provide for lobbies and circulation in the buildings beneath. To control light and heat at higher levels, large, glazed openings at the ground level diminish in size as they ascend the elevation. Six types of primary grid infill panels repeat over the building, made up of a series of repetitive, external, shop-fabricated titanium cladding panels.

Despite environmental and logistical hurdles from the area’s blazing hot summers and seaside location, the team delivered the project in just 22 months. “Working with international companies gave the project new and intuitive ideas,” says the submission. Full safety buy-in from both designers and contractors helped to cut the incident rate to a quarter of the U.K. average.

One judge lauded the project as being “very complex,” noting the “incredible amount of coordination to get that built with the quality that it has.”

Related Article: Global Best Projects Awards 2017