Even in rich cities, poor planning can exacerbate the effects of heat. In Kuwait City, the predominance of concrete and asphalt means that temperatures really ramp up in the afternoon as the hard surfaces start to radiate back the heat they’ve been absorbing all morning. As Alshafan’s own research for the London School of Economics highlights, the plans for modern Kuwait City were drawn up in the 1950s by foreign firms with little local expertise or respect for the climate.
The fierce heat is so engrained in the city’s consciousness that, even in the cooler months of the year, most locals shy away from spending time outdoors. As an architect, Alshalfan comes across this often in requests from her clients. “The requests we get are very much indoor-centric, so if we were to suggest a courtyard or a garden space, they’ll be like, ‘No, no, no, that’s just going to be collecting dust and that’s going to be a waste of our land, so let’s close it up.’ So it has become a culture thing, which is unfortunate.”
The Guardian published an article last week on the hottest cities in the world and Kuwait obviously made the list. But what I think the most interesting part about the article was a link to a research paper called “The right to housing in Kuwait: An urban injustice in a socially just system” by Sharifa Alshalfan. I’m half way through the research and find it very fascinating and insightful. Definitely worth reading if you’re into this sort of thing. Check out The Guardian article [Here] and check out the research paper [Here]