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Associate Architects: Dar Gulf Consult for Engineering Consultancy
General Contractor: Metallurgical Corporation of China MC and Khalid Al Kharafi KAK
Client: Kuwait University Construction Projects
Photographers: Mohammad Ashkanani
The College of Science (COS) and Faculty Club, one of the largest colleges at the Sabah Al-Ahmed Kuwait University City, is home to several science departments and includes offices, classrooms, laboratories, research spaces, and more, in addition to providing a unique faculty retreat. The project brings together over 6,350 students and 1,300 faculty and staff members in an inspiring and studious atmosphere. The six-floor plus two basement project spans 375,522 m2 of built area, with 104,805 m2 of the basement area.
The COS design focuses on enhancing connections between students, faculty, and staff. The central point of the architecture is the spaces between the functional blocks, where people circulate, converse, exchange knowledge, and learn from each other. The buildings are contemporary in design, with ample visual access between indoors and outdoors. The building planning and design are influenced by mathematics and craft, Islamic patterns, and the scientific study of quasicrystal structure forms. For example, this is apparent through the exterior façade systems which can be seen from many places across campus. Laser-cut stainless back-lit screens punctuate the location of the stairs for vertical circulation. The pattern is a derivative of the exterior curtain wall pattern.
It is a design that harmonizes interior and exterior design, giving COS a unified design experience. The geometric patterned exterior metal façade system is designed to allow natural light to enter the building while reducing the impact of heat buildup across the project. The façade system morphs according to the program behind it, ensuring a customized shade is present for all locations. The exterior soft and hardscaping for COS take into great consideration Kuwait’s flora and the need to create a beautiful outdoor space that responds to the harsh climate. Terracotta panels were placed on the lower levels to provide shading and to unify the façade of the neighboring colleges.
This project approaches educational spaces through a new and adaptive lens, allowing for an evolution of classroom ideology to present itself through the use of ‘Third’ and ‘Fourth Place Spaces.’ Third Place Spaces are unique areas interwoven into the exterior walls and main circulation paths of the College of Science, creating an open and inviting area for extended use by individual students and groups outside of the traditional classroom or study hall.
Fourth Place Spaces increase the capacity for knowledge sharing through display and observation, showcasing various scientific pursuits through visual access to activities, experiments, and other work being conducted within the building as well as the display of compelling information. These spaces serve to inspire students and faculty alike, fostering a community of talented and passionate individuals, which in turn encourages interaction, discussion, and continuous learning. COS is equipped with a high-tech facility for students and researchers of astronomy and meteorology programs to observe terrestrial, marine, or celestial events.
COS also houses the first pilot project at Kuwait University providing PV power generation as a hands-on learning tool to demonstrate renewable energy to students and a clean room facility for semiconductor fabrication - an important element for research and development. Numerous tech systems were installed in the smart classrooms in order to provide a seamless learning process for the students. COS has its own extensive distance-education facilities where professors of other universities can conduct online teaching using their own platform without needing to resort to third-party solutions. The high-tech laboratories each require unique systems, materials, and layouts.
The design and distribution of the mechanical systems for these spaces have been observed in meticulous detail to meet all necessary requirements. Furthermore, the laboratories and their equipment played a large role in the design and execution of the exterior façade system. Within the Oasis, designed to have a tent-like appearance, resides one of the two faculty clubs.
Serving as a retreat from campus, the raised-level faculty club, which is nestled between the north and south COS buildings, provides a luxurious space and serves an important role in building and strengthening the community for faculty and staff members. The main programmatic spaces are pushed into two linear forms that split apart and create an internal atrium. Several features in the building were integrated to ensure energy saving.
Smart building occupancy control, energy recovery, and air handling units with heat recovery systems were incorporated to reduce the cooling and heating loads. A CO2 demand control mechanism was added in high occupancy spaces to reduce ventilation airflow when not used or when not fully loaded with occupants, and high-performance glazing to reduce the building cooling demand.