In 1968 Hamid Abdulsalam Shuaib and his partners founded an architecture firm called Pace. And over the last fifty years they established themselves as one of the region’s most respected architecture and engineering firms. If you don’t know who they are, you definitely know their buildings – The New Central Bank of Kuwait, Avenues Phase IV, Arraya Center and the Arab Organization Headquarters are just a few of their projects.
In celebration of their 50th anniversary, Pace is launching a non-profit cultural exhibition at Shaheed Park, entitled “50 Years of Architecture in Kuwait” (click to get the locating, timing of the event and add it to your calendar!). The exhibition is taking place at Shaheed Park Hall Phase 2, and will run from October 8 to 28. We were lucky to get a private tour before the exhibited opened for the public and these are our five reasons to visit!
1. See what happens behind-the-scenes in the world of architecture
Architecture often seems like a dry or boring topic. But in reality it is an art form. These are spaces that we live, work or shop in. Engineers and architects have to work hard to come up with ideas that are both pleasing and functional. It is a lot harder than it looks. Designs need to be drawn and models built, and usually scrapped and done again for many iterations before anything sees the light of day.
2. View never-before-seen plans of Kuwait’s iconic buildings
The Pace archives housed some of the most interesting, detailed, beautiful documents. Photographs, negatives, blueprints, hand-drawn illustrations and microfilm of some of Kuwait’s iconic buildings can be seen . Many of which were kept safe by Pace archivists and employees during the Gulf War of 1990. It is a testament of their dedication to our collective architectural history. Screens will show rare video footage of Kuwait’s built environment too, for a rich multimedia experience!
3. It’s a gorgeous one-of-a-kind artistic exhibition
The collection is staged in a pavilion that was inspired by the Kuwait Fund building (see the featured image). The pavilion itself stands on a raised platform with a running groove that is filled with construction sand. Inside the pavilion past and future Kuwait are juxtaposed against each other! And on the outer aisles, one side features specially made illustrations. It all transitions very smoothly from one topic to the next and is designed to be pleasing on the sensory and intellectual level.
4. ‘Pan-Arab Modernism’ and Kuwait’s architectural evolution
Pan Arab Modernism is easily recognizable. Clean lines, glass, steel and reinforced concrete are its hallmarks and we have seen how current buildings have evolved from their mid-century modernist ancestors. New technologies and materials have helped designers imagine more daring and aesthetically pleasing creations. The collection is a sneak peek into the upcoming book being researched and published by Pace, we can’t wait!
5. Don’t be left out of one of the biggest cultural events of the season
It is a very well thought-out, designed and executed exhibition. The little details like the sand, the color themes and lighting add layers of interest and depth to it. It is being held in Al Shaheed Park, Kuwait’s favorite and most loved cultural center. Accessibility and wheelchair access are available. They also have benches and places for you to sit so you can rest, take your time and really immerse yourself in the heritage, history and projected future of architecture in Kuwait.
The exhibit challenges your preconceptions of architecture and architects. They want to design beautiful spaces and they want you to use and enjoy them.
When we spoke to Ian Purser, Head of Architecture at Pace, he mentioned that one of his favorite projects is Souk Al Zal. “It is a multipurpose building where people can live and work” he said. Despite its age, the building is still functional, practical and an icon in Kuwait.
Once you are done enjoying the exhibition, don’t forget to grab a souvenir postcard (or all of them) of the special illustrations on your way out.
For more information you can follow Pace on Instagram @pacemiddleeast.