Rendered view of circulation 'boardwalk'

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 2016
LEED: Tracking Gold Certification
Awards: AIA NY Chapter, 2012; Perkins+Will Biennale, 2012; World Architecture Festival, 2010; SARA National Chapter, 2010; AIA NY State, 2010; World Architecture News (WAN), 2010; NYC AIA: innovate:Integrate, 2010
Exhibits + Publications: eVolo Magazine; NYC Center for Architecture; The Architects' Newspaper
Link to web content: Youtube, WAF, WAN, The Architects' Newspaper

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



The University’s goals for the Kuwait University College of Education included the creation of a strong, individual identity for the College within the multi-college master plan; a student-centered academic environment that would foster a community of learning; and a highly sustainable design with daylight to all classrooms, offices and main circulation spaces. Kuwait’s large swings in temperature (from 40ºF to 140ºF) and relative humidity (from 5 to 85%) - the hottest urban climate on Earth -challenged the design team to find innovative ways to balance community and comfort with low energy use and environmental sensitivity. 

The design solution creates two five-story rectangular buildings containing modular, repetitive ‘a priori’ learning spaces that are juxtaposed against a free-form, undulating ‘Boardwalk’ - the social artery of the college - enclosing a variety of ‘a posteriori’ learning support spaces (e.g.: lounges; group study niches; remote learning suites) that is carved through the length and height of the structures, connecting all floors and functions, providing space for unscripted interactions between and among teachers and students, and reinforcing the belief that classroom-based learning must, in the 21st Century, be complemented by an equally vital learning support environment in which learning continues beyond the doors of the classroom. 

Accessed from The Boardwalk, a series of large internal garden courtyards — “Oases” — function as major amenity nodes (cafeteria, library, lobby, and auditorium) for the college, filled with daylight and sheathed in greenery, all highly visible from the learning spaces that surround and overlook them.

The building’s self-shading skin has been calibrated to its specific solar exposure in order to maximize daylight penetration but minimize both solar heat gain and glare. Its sculpted, pre-cast concrete panels shield the underlying windows from over 80% of the sun’s heat energy - dramatically driving down the primary energy costs of the building. The addition of a ground glass diffusing fin at each window captures and disperses daylight deep into each learning space, while contributing to solar protection. Inspired by traditional regional patterned screens whose twin functions were to shade the interior while providing screened views outward, the College of Education’s richly three-dimensional enclosure uses computer technology to maximize protected views from within the building while minimizing the sun’s adverse effects on the building’s energy performance.

Construction progress, 2015 - Image credit: Dar al Handasah

Massing studies

Program distribution diagram of circulation 'boardwalk'

Rendered view of building

Construction progress, 2015 - Image credit: Arturo Veve (for all construction photographs)

Rendered view of main entrance

Facade details

Rendered view of classroom interior

Rendered view of West facade

Sketches of courtyard gardens, sustainability studies - Images © Atelier Ten

Rendered view of courtyard garden

Rendered view of library

Quarter-scale study model of building facade - Image credit: © R. Anthony Fieldman