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Al Salaam

Courtesy of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

Al Salaam, one of several unbuilt projects in Kuwait in the 1970s, grew out of a series of master plans to transform the old port city into a modern metropolis driven by an oil-rich economy since 1946. Ambitious plans to rebuild were accompanied by government initiatives to construct new housing for those displaced from the razed urban center. Suburbanization was an essential component of modernization and an important indicator of Kuwait’s rapid progress.

The 27-acre waterfront site, located just outside downtown, was organized into two commercial blocks and six residential blocks built over a 1- and 2-level parking garage to free the development from traffic; major roadways run along two sides of the property while a public mall connects an inland roadway to the water’s edge. Looking to recapture some of the best qualities of the old city and to respond specifically to Kuwait’s climate and way of life, the walkable complex includes covered outdoor arcades, narrow sheltered streets, and courtyards that focus community activities in each residential cluster. Apartments are largely duplex units organized around a 2-story shaded open terrace contained within the structural frame. The general massing was designed to relate to existing villas in the neighborhood and to recall, albeit in modern terms, the organic architectural character of Kuwait’s recently demolished early architecture.


Site plan / Courtesy of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

Design Team: I.M. Pei, Design Partner; Harold Fredenburgh, Design Architect
I.M. Pei & Partners