History of the Kuwait National Museum

Post by Mark

kna

An invited competition was launched in 1960 for the construction of a museum in Kuwait City. Michel Ecochard won this project while his work was flourishing, especially in Lebanon. However, between the time of the project and its realisation, a long waiting period elapses. Michel Ecochard expressed doubts about the likelihood of this project being completed at all.

The Museum programme was based around several themes, including areas devoted to the oceans and to the field of culture, another to the oil industry, and a botanical garden. The first section relates to culture and administration; a space dedicated to archaeology, art, ethnography and folk traditions. Offices and storage areas extend into an outdoor exhibition area, with spaces reserved for temporary exhibitions and an auditorium. A separate building is reserved for displays on the theme of “Kuwait, today and tomorrow”, a dome-like structure, connected by a walkway to the main building. One can also gain access from the garden. A space with a high ceiling is able to house the machinery of oil chemistry; the second part of the second storey addresses the scientific and industrial applications of oil, and is covered by a dome structure that stands out from the rest. The main entrance is located between the two buildings.

It is interesting to note that the section of the Museum part devoted to traditional life partially recreates the organisation of the so-called traditional city, with a market for traditional crafts such as tanning, jewellery-making, pottery, weaving, and fishing. Buildings organised around a central patio reproduce forms of traditional habitat. In the area destined to house the zoological and botanical garden, an itinerary encouraging strolling, with the first floor transparent, is provided via ramps and walkways connecting the floors, allowing a view of the botanic garden and a large aquarium. The strength of the architectural design comes from the fact that each section is both independent and connected to everything else, both in the interior and exterior areas.

The architecture is resolutely modern with the use of concrete pillars and beams. The rhythmic façades are punctuated by areas with small rectangles made from work blocks. The architecture has been designed in response to the climate to avoid both the sun and sandstorms. It should be noted that the sun-shade was conceived as a way to create a microclimate and a variation of light according to the coverage needs. The idea is to create protection through a flat roof made of open, light, metal, a “microclimate” in which the museum and its immediate surroundings can function independently of the outside temperature. This is a huge shelter that is 28m high, with widely spaced pillars.

The museum was looted and burned during the 1990 Iraq invasion and it remained in that state until very recently. The museum is now currently under renovation.

museum

All the images and text above were taken from Archnet [Link] They also have a scan of an interesting publication relating to the museum which you can read [Here]

In 2014 I visited the museum and took photos of the inside before renovation work had started, you can check those out [Here]

knaold

The picture above is of the previous Kuwait National Museum. It was also destroyed during the 1990 Iraq invasion.


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Early Photos of Kuwaiti Landmarks

Post by Mark

preoil1

Found these two photos on @domestic_arch_kw which I hadn’t seen before. The one above is obviously the Kuwait Towers while the one below is the Fatma Mosque.

preoil2


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White Tower Arcades (Burj Al Abyad)

Post by Mark

whitetower

Back in the 90s, White Tower in Salmiya used to be similar to Rihab Complex, the whole top floor was full of video game stores but there were also a bunch of arcade shops. It was the place to go to if you wanted to play fighting games against other people but also if you wanted to play now classic games like Metal Slug. Oh the amount of money I spent on Metal Slug…

Anyway, I passed by White Tower a couple of days ago to see if anything was still open and to my surprise there was still one arcade shop still standing. It wasn’t in the best of state but they did have recent games. Some of the games they had were the following:

Street Fighter V
Street Fighter IV
Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike
King of Fighters (all of them)
Marvel vs Capcom

And if I understood correctly they had a bunch of NeoGeo games as well. Best part is it still costs exactly the same as it did back in the 90s to play a round, just 100fils. If you win you keep playing for free of course. If you don’t know where White Towers is, here it is on [Google Maps]


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Kuwait Marriott Hotel (Ramada al Salaam Hotel)

Post by Mark

mariott1

The Kuwait Marriott Hotel used to be located in Shuwaikh where the KPC building is located right now. [Google Maps]

In 1972, Santa Paula was sold to “Oceanic Sun Line Special Shipping Company Inc” of Greece and she was renamed Stella Polaris. It was intended for her to become a cruise ship. Although she arrived in Piraeus on December 11, she remained laid up until 1976, when she was obtained by the Marriott Group, and four Kuwaiti companies. She was sent to Rijeka, Yugoslavia (today’s Croatia) where she was converted for the use as a luxury floating hotel in Kuwait City. She arrived in Kuwait in September 1978 having been renamed the “Kuwait Marriott Hotel.” On October 17 workers commenced to raise the harbour bed at her specially prepared berth as hull was to remain to be permanently grounded. This was completed and she officially opened as a hotel on February 1, 1980. In 1989 she was renamed the “Ramada al Salam Hotel” but soon disaster would hit this fine vessel!

However, when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991 the ship was attacked and she was bombed and set ablaze totally destroying this once magnificent ship. Upon inspection she was considered a total loss. Many of her machinery spares, which somehow remained in perfect order were sold and were used for her sister ship, the ex Santa Rosa by Regency Cruises as she was being rebuilt as the SS Regent Rainbow. Today this fine totally rebuilt ship continues to sail on as the SS “The Emerald.” The “Ramada al Salaam Hotel,” ex Santa Paula was scrapped in 2002, however it is said that parts of the ship are still visible at her final resting place. [Source]

mariott2

I wonder if it’s true that some of the ship parts are still visible. I never thought of going and checking it out.

Here are pictures of the hotel before it’s destruction:

Here are pictures of the hotel after it’s destruction:

Pictures collected from various sources online.


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Footage from the Kuwait Towers Opening in 1979

Post by Mark

I wonder if that booth at the 30 second mark was the DJ booth for the discotheque that was originally part of the Kuwait Towers plans… [YouTube]

Thanks Mohannad

booth


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Muhammad Ali in Kuwait

Post by Mark

Mohammed-Ali-in-Kuwait-photo

Back in the early 70s Muhammad Ali came to Kuwait while touring the Middle East on his way to Hajj. The picture above was taken here in Kuwait while he was out dining. No idea what restaurant that is but my friends dad is in the photo.

Thanks Motez!


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The KOC Archive: Ahmadi Drive-In Theater

Post by Mark

drive-in

These are the last photos I have from the KOC archive and they’re of the Ahmadi Drive-In Theater before it opened. In the photos the drive-in construction had been completed and looks like they were installing the AC system and setting up the projectors.

If you want to see how the theater looks like today, I passed by back in 2012 and took some photos. You can check that post [Here]. Not sure what the state of the theater is today, there were rumblings that it was going to get demolished to build a new mall. I know it sounds like I’m joking but I’m not, thats actually what I had heard.

To check out all the photos I’ve shared so far from the KOC archive, click [Here]


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The KOC Archive: The Old Kuwait Airport

Post by Mark

oldairport

This is part of the last bunch of photos I have from my last trip to the KOC photography archive. I should pass by and get some more but for now, here are some old photos of the old Kuwait airport. Not sure where this airport was located so if someone could let us know that would be great.


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The KOC Archive: Old Kuwait (Part 3)

Post by Mark

oldkuwiat3

This is the last batch, part three of the three part series I’ve called “Old Kuwait”. All the photos below were taken during my visit to the KOC Photography Archive.


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The KOC Archive: Old Kuwait (Part 2)

Post by Mark

oldkuwait2

Here is the second part of the three part series “Old Kuwait”. All the photos below are from the KOC Photography Archive.


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