Modern Architecture Kuwait 1949-1989

Post by Mark


Yesterday evening I was invited to the launch of the book “Modern Architecture Kuwait 1949-1989” that was held at Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah in Yarmouk. I really didn’t ask any questions about the event before I went since I’ve been wanting to get my hands on the book ever since I found out about it last year. So when one of the book authors invited me to the launch, I just went no questions asked. What I didn’t know was that there was going to be a presentation by Mr. Khalid al-Essa, the former Minister of Public Works and Dr. Ibrahim al-Shaheen, the former General Director of Public Authority of Housing and former Minister of Municipal Affairs. Both those presenters were around and involved during Kuwait’s architectural rise and once their presentation was over they took part in a panel discussion.


For those of you that have following the blog for awhile now you already know my obsession with Kuwait’s past and so I felt extremely lucky to be in attendance last night listening to the stories of how Kuwait went from mud buildings to having world renowned architects like Kenzo Tange, Jørn Utzon and I. M. Pei involved in local projects. Listening to the two of them talk last night reminded me again how truly young Kuwait is.


The book “Modern Architecture Kuwait 1949-1989” is a combined effort by Roberto Fabbri, Sara Saragoça Soares and Ricardo Camacho. It involves over two years of investigative research as well as gorgeous photography taken by the gifted architectural photographer Nelson Garrido who travelled across Kuwait to document over 150 buildings that are featured in the book. The buildings are divided into four categories:

Specimens I – building as infrastructure: 1949-1960
Specimens II – building as national identity: 1961-1979
Specimens III – building as cityscape: 1971-1979
Specimens IV – building as programme: 1980-1989

As you can imagine, the book if fairly thick but with the amount of constant demolishing of old buildings taking place in Kuwait, its important to document as many buildings as possible before it’s too late.


The book costs KD22 and is available on Amazon [Link] and also at the Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah bookshop in Yarmouk [Map]. If you have the slightest interest in architecture, design or Kuwait’s past then you should definitely get one.

This morning the architectural and design magazine Dezeen ran a piece on the book along with around 20 photos. Check it out, their article has a lot more details and the photos will give you a general idea of what to expect inside the book. Here is the [Link]

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13 comments, add your own...

  1. AA says:

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. zaydoun says:

    Wish I had gone… Khaled Al-Essa is always an entertaining speaker and storyteller


    Shameless namedrop: Kenzo Tange was a guest in our house for lunch a couple of times :-)

    • Mark says:

      oh damn, what year was this and did he have any interesting stories to share about the airport?

      • Q80Thinker says:

        Honestly wish I attended so i could of grilled Dr. Shaheen for the appauling condition of the public housing in Sulaibikhat that citzens are now receiving after waiting 25 years.

        Seriously Mark, you should cover this story.

  3. Adel says:

    Mark why your website takes so damn long time to load on iPhone. I tried disabling adblock, different Ios versions.. Etc still the same issue.

    Btw I’m running on iOS 9.3

    • Adel says:

      On a second thought, it might be my dns server. anyone else is facing the same issue? If so what’s your internet provider

  4. Dolores says:

    That’s great, I wish I had gone. When I looked on instagram they were telling people the lecture was in Arabic, so I didn’t go. I’m definitely buying the book!

  5. Unfortunately the lecture was in Arabic and many attendees were totally left out of the interesting discussion, a real shame. The book is well researched and a great resource – great addition to the very sparse literature on Kuwait’s built heritage.

  6. aaa says:

    The book is amazing! Got a copy, kind of shameful we had to rely on 3 foreigners to document our history so well but thanks to them for doing it

  7. Laila says:

    From can we get a copy?

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