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50s to 90s Design Interesting People

Saving the Futuristic Bubble House from Amghara

Last week a video popped up on my feed that I thought was fascinating. A guy called Hamad AlMuzaini (@hamad.muzaini) had spotted a little piece of architecture history at a scrap yard in Amghara, the Maison Bulle (Bubble House) by French modernist architect, Jean-Benjamin Maneval.

The Bubble House which was conceived in 1963 is considered to be one of the most successful designs for “futuristic plastic houses“. Only 300 of these prefab homes were ever built and so it’s pretty incredible that not only did one end up in Kuwait, but the fact that it survived and is in fairly decent condition is a miracle.

Hamad is an architect and designer who lived and worked in the US for roughly 13 years. Most of his work experience revolved around modular and prefabricated construction, which is why when he spotted the Bubble House roughly two years ago, he immediately recognized that it was a novel system and had immense value. But, Hamad only realized recently what he had spotted when an account he follows posted a similar Bubble House. So Hamad went back to Amghara and called the number of the scrapyard asking if it was for sale. From there he purchased the house and started planning its relocation.

Most of the images online consistently depicted the Bubble House set against nature, making a really beautiful composition of something quite futuristic. So he decided to move the Bubble House out of the scrap yard and onto his family’s farm.

Currently Hamad is focusing his efforts on restoring the structure without permanent and damaging procedures. He wants to restore it as close to the original as possible but without an interior layout, leaving it as an open floor plan. He hopes to one day host events with some community engagement surrounding the Maison Bulle, but for now his focus is to restore it.

How the Bubble House ended up in Kuwait in the first place is still a mystery, but at least it’s in good hands right now.

Categories
50s to 90s Design Shopping

Northern Salmiya Building Refurbishment

The Northern Salmiya Building is located in the old Salmiya souk on Salem Mubarak Street. It’s over 50 years old, and since I grew up down the street from it, I’ve seen so many shops come and go there.

It’s the same complex that used to house Kids’r’us (Alghanim Automotive before that) and it’s the same building that had the old National/Panasonic store that used to have the NeoGeo in the window display. The corner shop was Boushahri where everyone used to go to get their passport photos taken. Mogahwi was also located there, the first Alshaya stores also all opened there including The Bodyshop, BHS, Mothercare and Next.

The building was also designed by SSH over 50 years ago, the same firm that’s behind JACC, ASCC and the waterfront project.

Recently, the corner of the building was demolished, and a tower was built in its place. It sucks that they demolished part of the building, but now that the tower is up it’s actually not that bad and I’m glad at least that they didn’t demolish the whole thing. What’s great is that they’ve also gone ahead and refurbished the rest of the building with a fresh coat of paint, new lights and even had some oversized signages for some of the stores removed.

The building is looking pretty good now, and I wish more old buildings got refurbished as well. And I don’t mean Dasman Complex style refurbishing where they’re just horribly covering the whole building facade with Alucobond.

If you haven’t been to old salmiya recently you should, it’s really popping. Google Maps

Update: Just found a photo in my archive of the Northern Salmiya Building under construction

Categories
Design Photography

Design Highlight: Zen Villa, Wafra

This might be one of my favorite projects so far in Kuwait. Inspired by Kuwait’s traditional courtyard houses, the Zen Villa features a deliberate minimalist design intended to envelop residents in a panoramic view of surrounding palm trees and horse barns. It was designed by the local award winning firm Fikrr Architects, and is located in Wafra.

Each room in the Zen Villa was designed with expansive windows spanning the full width of the walls, connecting the family with the surrounding nature.The interior palette and materials were influenced by the surrounding landscape, echoing the desert through hues of yellow, beige, and green. This approach harmonizes the villa with its environment, infusing it with the warmth and tranquility of the natural world outside.

Even the roof was given attention to. By maintaining a clean and uncluttered roof, the architects overcame the challenge of heat impacts that would be generated by heavy equipment such as AC units which could then travel into the center courtyard.

For more  photos of the villa, check out their instagram @fikrr and their website fikrr.com

Photos by @ngphoto.com.pt

Categories
Design

Design Highlight: Mariam’s Library

Since it’s the month of giving, I decided for this design highlight I’d post about Mariam’s Library, a corporate social responsibility project by local architects, Parallel Studio.

Mariam’s Library was created with the aim of providing enhanced educational opportunities to students situated in the village of Mwanyanya in Zanzibar. The project originated from Parallel’s Studio commitment to giving back to both local and global communities through their Parallel Gives Program.

The library has two main zones, the first is a designated area for reading and study. It was designed similar to a stage so to maximize seating capacity. The second zone is an open space meant for community engagement and group activities. The result is a space that fulfills both practical and aesthetic requirements.

Speaking of aesthetics, when it came to the design of the library, Parallel Studio made sure to balance traditional architectural elements with modern design principles, while still also respecting Zanzibar’s architectural heritage. The materials they used were carefully selected to honor both the environment and local craftsmanship. For example, they used clay bricks in both the exterior and interior since it helps cool down temperatures during the summer season, while the fiber corrugated roofing was installed to allow daylight to filter in and provide ambient lighting.

I love the look of this library and the initiative behind it. Plus, the fact that it took only 34 days from start to finish is impressive. To see more work by Parallel Studio check out their instagram @parallel_studio

Photos by Nassor Othman

Categories
Design Food

Design Highlight: DOH!’s Floatie Stall

This is a simple, but fun and very cute idea. Local design studio Mud Architects were commissioned to design a stall for Doh! at the new food hall in Khiran Mall.

Taking inspiration from the location of the food hall being in a beach town, Mud decided to create a large donut floatie. The design choice was a nod to both the brand’s fun identity, and the coastal vibe of Khiran, creating an eye-catching and engaging presence inside the food hall.

Photos by @mashkanani

Categories
Design

Design Highlight: Mamluki Lancet Mosque

Located in Al Masayel area, I actually watched the Mamluki Lancet Mosque being built since it’s just a few houses down the street from my friend’s place. As the mosque was being built we could tell it was going to be something special because nothing about it looked ordinary.

The mosque, designed by the local design studio Babnimnim, is a modern building that draws inspiration from the traditional Mamluki architecture of Islamic Cairo. It incorporates elements like the Islamic dome pendentive ‘Moqarnas,’ whose basic shape results from a 45° rotation of a square around its center.

The interior of the mosque is as visually interesting as the exterior, and because of the way it was designed, there are no pillars in the middle, and instead is a large open space. The interior is minimal and calm, with plenty of day light coming in through the roof.

Mamluki Lancet Mosque isn’t open yet but will be opening soon. Here is the location on Google Maps. For some more photos of this project, click here.

Categories
Design

Design Highlight: Pixel House

Pixel House was designed by the Kuwait and Madrid based firm AGi Architects. It was completed this year and designed around two main features, privacy and temperature filters.

The garden which looks visually amazing serves as the first barrier to the warm air and the retention of dust. This first thermal filter is followed by the swimming pool which is covered with a perforated slab that will eventually be covered with climbing plants. The living room next to the garden area has openings to the shaded outdoor space, minimizing heat gain caused by solar radiation. Finally the courtyards in the middle act as thermal filters for the interior of the house.

When it comes to privacy, the living and entertaining areas are located in the most public part of the house, near the entrance. On the other hand, the private rooms are tucked away but are still attached to the outside area through gaps, patios and courtyards. The whole facade surrounding the pool also opens and closes for privacy.

For more photos, click here.

Photos by @ngphoto.com.pt

Categories
Design

Design Highlight: Bridge House

Completed last year, Bridge House is a beautiful multi-family compound that is located in Khiran. It was designed by the architects TAEP, and like their Tent House which I previously posted about, it also has a lot of cozy-looking spaces.

The whole plot features one long covered outdoor communal area that stretches from the rear of the house down to the sea passing through four distinct residential units. The concept behind the design was to prioritize family values of gathering and community which is why the outdoor areas in this weekend beach house becomes the main event.

To check out more photos, click here.

Categories
Design

Abuelo Wins Best Designed Cafe Award

The Restaurant & Bar Design Awards announced their list of winners for the Middle East & Africa category, and one of my favorite designed places in Kuwait just won.

Abuelo which was designed by Studio Nesef and is located in The Avenues won the award for the best designed cafe. I’m glad it did because I really do believe it is one of the nicest designed places in Kuwait. When it first opened I actually messaged Studio Nesef to let them know how much I liked the interior, it’s so visually interesting.

If you’ve never come across the place, it’s located in the alleyway adjacent to % Arabica in Avenues Phase 4.

To check out who else won, visit @restaurantandbardesignawards

Categories
Design

Design Highlight: Tent House

This beautiful chalet is located in Al Khiran and was designed by the architecture firm TAEP/AAP. It’s been completed for awhile now but this weekend it popped up on my news feed and I just loved the design and all the various cozy-looking interior nooks.

The design of the house was inspired by the importance of shade in our desert climate so an oversized roof was designed over two internal units to provide protection from the sun and wind. The roof is also perforated so it could bring daylight into the interior spaces as well as offer views of the sky.

Another cool feature I liked is how open the house is while still being very private. A lot of homes usually have windows facing the main road and neighbors but then stay closed the whole time. The tent house was designed from the get-go to maintain privacy from the main road and neighbors while maximizing openness and transparency to the private beach and garden terraces.

If you want to see more of this house and other cool looking ones designed by the same firm, check out their website.

Categories
Design

The Sadu Brick Road

The road right next to Sadu House that leads towards the National Museum and the National Library is being replaced with a Sadu brick road. No idea who came up with this idea but I love it!

Categories
Design Food

Design Highlight: Pattie Pattie

A few weeks ago I was invited to the opening of a new burger concept opened called Pattie Pattie. My first thought obviously was that we had too many burger joints already, most tasted the same and we really didn’t need any more. But I still went to the opening and although the burger was forgetful, the space wasn’t.

Pattie Pattie has to be one of the coolest-looking burger joints in Kuwait. I love spaces that bring something visually new to Kuwait, places that transport you to another place, there are a few spots that do it really well, Boost and Ovo for example are two that come to mind. Pattie Pattie is another place now that does the same.

The design of Pattie Pattie was created by the local creative studio WEFT and was inspired by the American fast food culture and the iconic mid-century architecture of California.

The design of the building was born from the limitations imposed on that plot of land. The land measured 365m2 but the permit limited the building size to just 5x18m (90m2). The exterior space had no particular restrictions, as long as the vertical structure was 90m2. As a result, WEFT designed a large canopy cutting across the full width of the plot in a dynamic diagonal composition. To further enhance the size of the small restaurant, they raised the plot by 30cm to frame the building and create a larger sense of scale.

Every design element had a reason from the bold colors to the integration of design-driven playful accessories. The result is basically this beautiful vibrant space that has now become a landmark in the neighborhood. If you want to check out the place in person here is the location on Google Maps or click here to see more.

Photos by @mashkanani

Categories
Design

Sultan Center Rebrands

Yesterday Sultan Center launched their new Adailiya store and unveiled a brand new identity with it. They dropped the word Center from their name so it’s just Sultan now which is what everyone called it anyway. But, their new icon feels too generic with one friend describing it as looking like an energy company.

The new Adailiya store is part of the company’s original plan to launch 20 new stores between 2020 and 2025, with 14 stores already launched. Their 2025 vision is to have a Sultan store within a ten-minute reach from any point in Kuwait’s inhabited areas. There are currently 46 Sultan stores in Kuwait.

So what do you think about the new logo?

Categories
Design

6 Beautifully Designed Coffee Shops in Kuwait

It wasn’t easy putting this list together with so many great-looking coffee shops in Kuwait, here click on more below to see the 6 most beautifully designed ones. If I missed a place, let me know in the comments.

Categories
Design Sneakers

Solelab – The Coolest Looking Sneaker Shop

Over the weekend I passed by the Solelab location in Shuwaikh and it’s HUGE. The place looks as good as it does in the photos and there’s even a beautiful coffee bar in one corner. Actually, if there were more seats and tables, it would also be a great-looking coffee shop.

I didn’t end up buying anything but they did have a pretty large selection of sneakers as well as some clothes from brands like Carhartt, Butter Goods, and Huff. There’s also a cool-looking sneaker laundry in case you want to get your sneakers cleaned.

If you want to check the place out, the store is located in Shuwaikh in the same complex as Spark and Pet Lobby. They’ve also got more photos on their account if you want to check them out @solelabkw