AMBASCIATA DEL KUWAIT

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Building technology

 

The foundations, basement level and the logistical cores will be built in reinforced concrete and a steel construction and from the ground floor and up with the idea that this technology better permits prefabrication and correlated overlay of production phases and a cleaner progression of works the benefits of which offset greater base cost.  Most importantly steel guarantees a lighter and more efficient structure that is easier to achieve the high standards of construction and respect the tight tolerances that a building of this importance demands.

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Always with an eye to optimizing building time and control building standards the building envelope will be realized using dry construction techniques.  That is both the fenestrations and the travertine revetments will be semi industrialized and fixed mechanically.

 

The main entrance to the embassy is on the principal access of the large Reception Hall or Diwan as we have called it, located between the two one arrives at this door by way of a slightly elevated entry court on the southern edge is located a fountain that has the same dimensions and orientation as the prayer room inside.  Passing under the monumental mash through the mains doors open on to the Entry Hall that in turn leads to the Diwan even if the main axis of the Entry Hall a type ofmajaz is perpendicular to this d breaking its axis and to gives access to the second Reception Hall, Library, ground floor Meeting Room.  and the main ceremonial stair and guest elevator. A secure access to the administrative offices is provided in the western wall of the hall where the services are located.

 

The Dewaniya is the conceptual and structural heart of the project. Pitched between the two

Throughout the passage from outside to in across the entry hall down along the main hall one is accompanied/guided by the a continuous suspended permeable woven metal ceiling that in the diwan also functions as a decorative frieze. This woven structure purposely recalls the decorative ceilings or Muqarns even if the actual design proposed is inspired by the fabric of tents that Arabic vernacular tradition.

 

The Consulate runs parallel to the main access of the diwan and therefore the two will never intersect. While the consulate public cannot mix with the embassy all offices – consular, diplomatic and administration - are located in the western block to facilitate good communication between the various divisions and economize on the spatial requirements.

Internal revetments and pavings

In keeping with the TOR it is proposed to us a selection of materials is proposed that we believe with be avble to communicate

Leading in from the exterior paving and facades the entry hall and the waiting space are paved in bed cut travertine dimensions that respects the geometric system of the building. The reception desk wall of the main entrance will continue the use of the outside travertine

Large format, book matched prestigious calacatta d’oro marble paving is proposed for the main reception hall or carefuuly selected and drawn by the architect to ensure that the natural arabesque of the stone successfully alludes to the geometric tradition that is the basis of Islamic architecture.

Teak wood for the floors custom office fittings and revetments in all offices, library, and meeting rooms with the exception of those dedicated to the ambassador where it is proposed to use a more elaborate wood parquet Versailles. Wood is proposed for its comfort qualities while the choice of teak was suggested by the Kuwait’s maritime heritage and in particular the Dhow.

The initial geometry of the project was drawn from a careful interweaving of the Arab tradition represented in the first instance by the Qibla and the Roman tradition represented by the cardo  decumanus.  Having cleared the ground and traced the respective orientations a first enclosure was drawn in which a Gate was successively opened and this first enclosure turned inside out to face the world. In the resulting enclosure between the two halves a new clearing is drawn the Sahn analogous to the courtyard in the domus, around which the embassy complex took form.

Access to the Embassy is by way of an slightly elevated Entry Court, passing through ceremonial doors, on the principal axis of the Sahn which was aligned along the cardo in recognition of the Embassy’s civic role in the City of Rome. In keeping with the tradition of majlis the axis of the Entry Hall does follow that of the Sahn beyond and runs perpendicular to the latter. From the eastern edge of the majlis access is given to the second Reception Hall, which is configured as a pavilion and in turn leads onto the garden; the library and the ground floor Meeting Room. Also to the east is the main stair suspended over a pool which it never quite touches. The pool together with the vertical garden behind the stair is intended to recall the Howz. To the west, beyond the Information Desk are the services and a protected access to the Consulate and Embassy Offices above.

Returning to the principal axis one enters a high sky lit space only to find that the Sahn it is not so or not wholly so because it has been transformed into a contemporary al Khaym. An open weave metal lattice has been drawn across to shade it from the excess sun light and in so doing to reveals the true sense of this space.  It is a Dewaniya.

At the northern closure of the Dewaniya  an array of panels leads east to the prayer room which in keeping with the prescriptions of Islam is aligned along the Qibla.

Finishing materials

In order to ensure a smooth transition between outside and in the travertine of the exterior paving and facades extends into the Entry Hall. Large format, book matched, Calacatta d’Oro marble from the quarries of Carrara is proposed as paving for the main Reception Hall.

Teak wood is used for the floors, custom office fittings and revetments in all offices, the library, and meeting rooms with the exception of those dedicated to the Ambassador where it is proposed to use a more elaborate Versailles parquet. Wood is proposed for its comfort qualities while the choice of teak was suggested by Kuwait’s maritime heritage and in particular the Dhow.

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Section

The most suggestive section is that from south to north which follows the main passage from outside to in, from the entry court through the ceremonial doors, across the entry hall and into the Main Reception Hall. Along this path one is guided by a continuously unfolding permeable metal lattice work that reaches its zenith in the 7.50 metre high ceiling of the Main Hall. It is here that the symbolic function of this fabric is revealed. Beneath the fully unfurled fabric the Sahn transforms itself into the ever enduring archaic architecture of the al Khayma. In this interpretative key the vertical surfaces read as Belma and the horizontal as Saqf. In design development phase attention will be given to the possibility of softening the lines to better recall the original tent.

Even if the actual design proposed is inspired by the fabric of the tents of the Arabic vernacular tradition this woven structure purposely recalls the decorative ceilings or Muqarns.  The sense of the Sahn is never lost because the glass and steel lattice is designed to result in a light space.

In contrast to the almost mundane treatment of the office façade that of the ambassador’s wing is rendered almost exclusively in travertine to imbue it with a monument sense that clearly distinguishes it from the rest of the complex.  Note should be made of the full height bow windows on the eastern façade which following the qibla open towards Mecca. The intention in the case of the library is to draw an analogy between Mecca, light, and awareness.

  

To be realized in a woven metal profiles the masharabiya protects the Entrance Hall yet also reveals the Dewaniya that is the heart of the project.

Besides recognizing the great Islamic tradition of the proposed design is to be realized in an weaving of metal extrusions recall the traditional architecture of the tent.

 

The mash is centered between two travertine blocks.

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Basement

The basement plan receives is imprinted from the floors above and is dedicated to building environment plant, service offices and long term storage as per the requirements of the TOR.  Accessed from the north end of the site, on this level are the twenty car parks requested, attention was given to ensuring that the ambassador has a direct access from here to his offices. Finishes foreseen comply with the prescriptions of the TOR. In particular because the foundations and basement level will be built in reinforced concrete every effort will be given to producing the finest possible concrete finish.

 

Structure and construction technology

Once at ground level the building changes from reinforced concrete to steel construction that has been laid out on the base 5 meter grid.  This choice is determined by the following considerations: steel technology better permits prefabrication and correlated overlay of production phases: leads to a cleaner and speedy progression of works.  Most importantly steel guarantees a lighter and more efficient structure that facilitates the high standards of construction and respect for the tight tolerances that a building of this importance demands.

Always with an eye to optimizing building time and control construction standards the building envelope and internal partitions will be realized using dry construction techniques. The only exception will be the logistical cores that house vertical circulation which for seismic design reasons will be built in reinforced concrete.

 

Attic and Roof Terraces

Crowning the new Embassy complex is the roof structure of the Main Reception Hall in low-e, selective glass and steel, reinforcing the centrality of the Dewaniya.(1) This structure is a folded plate the beams of which are laid out respecting the Qibla with the intention of communicating the overriding role of the precepts of prophet for Islam. It is from this structure the underlying steel lattice of the Saqf is suspended.

Surmounting the block of the Ambassador is planned a private terrace.  Fully part of the recent roman tradition of roof top gardens(2) a terrace and hanging garden is planned.  Orientated south - sou’east and finished in teak this terrace is intented a quite oasis where the Ambassador may host special guests or find a quiet retreat suspended among the surrounding tree tops.

Atop of the office block a central cafeteria for employees is foreseen, complete with its roof top garden for outside eating. It is orientated west to guarantee the privacy of the Ambassador. In keeping with its function, the plan was given a flowing form to be built exclusively in steel and glass albeit with due attention to environmental control and energy saving requirements.

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Façade treatment

In keeping with the general principals of the project a modular system has been developed for the facades that guarantees the unity of the project and the individual characterization of the building programmatic components by way of change of technology and material or simply shifts of scale.

The main façade has tripartite composition, dominated by a contemporary monumental Mashrabiya in steel and glass that spans between two travertine blocks that recall the ‘original gate’. To the east, is the larger more monumental block accommodating the Ambassador’s wing to the west in a minor scale are housed the consulate and general administrative offices.

The base design of the lattice work of the Mashrabiya is drawn from the textile tradition of Arabian culture, the significance of which for this project is addressed in the discussion of the north south section. It is to be noted that in the next phase of the project much attention will be dedicated to embellishing the ‘weave’.

The choice of travertine as the base façade material is in recognition of the context of the city of Rome and in particular the use of this material since ancient times for revetment of the city’s most important buildings. The ‘weave’ design explores the underlying theme of project. Completing the design of the main doors low relief rendering of the base ornamental design sculptured in travertine.

The office facades are characterized by the use of glass and steel using the latest technology to optimize energy saving and natural illumination of the work spaces. The decorative motive first seen on the main façade of the entrance is used here screen printed panels, cast metal solar control panels and sculpted travertine facades. 

 

The project takes as it’s leitmotif the knot – the joining and twisting of threads that bind to each other and hold others together. The knot of sailors and The project aspires to create a place where the State of Kuwait and the Republic of Italy can beautifully meet while each remains true to their own self.

Site Analysis and Master Plan

The drawing to the left illustrates in a synthetic manner the actual site conditions and briefly sketches the regulations that govern it’s future redevelopment. The Regional Landscape Regulatory Plan (PTPR) describes via Camilluccia as a route of particular environmental and historical importance and prescribes a fascia of respect from the street that potentially limits possible future redevelopment. For this reason the new project was developed as closely as possible from the existing built condition of the site. The town planning and building code imposes a 5 meter no build set back from all boundaries.  Also drawn on the plan, besides the footprint of the existing building and access ways, is the Qibla and the Roman paired axes cardo  decumanus that together, as shown in the master plan drawing on the right, provide the orientation of the new project. In the site analysis drawing the Cardo is aligned due north while in the project it and the grid that is generated from it is rotated till it lies at 45 degrees to the Qibla. Thus completing the base geometry of the project: the square and it’s hypotenuse, 1 and the square root of 2.

In laying out the building the Ambassadorial wing is located to the east and to the west is situated the Consulate and Embassy. In this way the Consulate is close to the main entrance to the property which remains where it is now. The circulating road providing access to the basement and car parks similarly retraces the existing route. Every effort was made to conserve the existing dimensions of the garden so that should the Ambassador desire he can pitch the tent that today is situated in the front garden. A new fountain is proposed that receives the main axis of the building – the Cardo – and redirects it along the Qibla.

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First floor

The Ambassador’s office is located in the south east corner of the complex on the first floor. Seen in plan and elevation his office alone breaks the line of the main façade rotating on the alignment of the second order of the two rotating squares and enjoys a view to the south overlooking the garden. An opportunity to view the entry court through the window of the adjacent waiting room which is connected by an automated sliding door controlled only by the ambassador. The adjunct functions to the Ambassador’s office, his bathroom, private room, ‘room with in a room’, dining/meeting room with support kitchen develops along the south north axis of the building. The maximum of attention has been given in selecting possible finishes for the Ambassador: Versailles parquet, Calacatta marble paving. Wood revetment and Muqarns.

As per the regulations access to the Ambassador is exclusively by way of his secretary whose expansive office is located behind theMashrabiya in a position to oversee the arrival of the ceremonial stair and the Dewaniya below.

Bridging west from his secretary’s office is the glass enclosure of the Main Meeting Room with auxiliary spaces and services: bathroom, back office and a small kitchen- The meeting room like the secretary’s office is screened from the outside by Mashrabiya of the main façade and it too overlooks the Dewaniya. A second order of screen is foreseen to guarantee maximum privacy without renouncing the lightness the most contemporary of Mashrabiya Privalite™. Between the exterior glass and the glass of the meeting room is a passage way connecting the ambassador with his diplomatic staff. The embassy office then develop in a regular manner along the south north axis, parallel to those of the Ambassador.