Tent Garden - Main Atrium

Client: Sabah al-Salem University City
Location: Shuwaikh, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Size: 640,000sf
Program: Administrative offices, Classrooms, Auditorium, Dining, Library, Study Carrels/Remote Learning, Structured Parking (below grade)
Cost: $160,000,000
Status: In construction - completion 2015
LEED: Tracking Gold certification
Awards: SARA National Honor Award, 2010; AIA NY State Award of Excellence, 2010; World Architecture Festival Finalist, 2009
Link to web content: WAN

Key Roles: R. Anthony Fieldman, former Principal and lead project designer, Perkins+Will

Perkins+Will, Lead Design Architect; Dar al Handasah, Architect of Record

Images: Unless otherwise noted, copyright owned by Perkins+Will Architects, PC - used by permission





Summer in Kuwait is long, very hot, and humid; daytime temperatures can rise to 61º (145ºF). Notwithstanding the inhospitability of the natural context, to be successful the Kuwait University College of Arts requires a community space - a Campus Green - that is both connected to the natural and cultural context of the College, and is shielded from the extremes of the natural environment. The College of Arts building therefore offers an amenity in Kuwait that doesn’t exist: a city-block long, temperate and lush campus green in the desert. Low-tech, energy-friendly strategies, such as earth ducts, wind capture, natural induction and waste-water irrigation allow this open-air landscape to self-perpetuate and reduce ambient outdoor temperature by 15º Celsius (27º Fahrenheit).

A blending of two typologies - the traditional campus green and the diwaniya tent (a traditional gathering place whose sophisticated social, functional, material and environmental responses to local conditions lend it a special significance in the region) - provides the College of Arts with its signature space. Interior courtyard spaces with inwardly sloped glass walls act as vertical "tent gardens" to the spaces beneath. Openings atop each tent garden are sized to deliver the ideal amount of daylight to the classrooms, offices and gardens while protecting their fully glazed, transparent walls from 100% of the glare, discomfort and solar heat gain common to exposed glass buildings in the desert. Within some of the tent gardens, terraced stadium seating provides informal student spaces that promote community awareness and interaction.

Conceptual study model - building as tent

Concept diagrams - building as tent

Construction progress, 2015. Image credit: © Arturo Veve (all construction images)

Construction progress, 2015

Construction progress, 2015

Construction progress, 2015

Construction progress, 2015

Rendered view of main entrance

Sketches of sustainable strategies. Image credit: Atelier Ten

Building section and elevation highlighting 'tent gardens'

Rendered view of building at night

Rendered view of 'tent garden' interior