Ceramic architecture in Kuwait City
AFP Kuwait for Grazia Neri
Norr Group Consultants International
Cities like Siena and Treviso were built for pedestrians. The centre of London was created for horses and carriages. Los Angeles, constructed when oil supplies appeared unlimited, is designed for the car. Each historical period has its own city.
The new Gulf cities, built on the edge of emptiness using wealth generated from petrodollars, were created with a view to the time when the local black gold runs out and aim to exploit future opportunities in the fields of exhibition activities, trade and entertainment.
The first of these cities to fire up the engines of growth was Kuwait City. After the unfortunate experience of the first Gulf War, the city has resumed its expansion and in 2007 the location that recorded the fastest growth anywhere in the world was the centre of Kuwait City, with an increase in prices per square metre of around 180%. This hyper-appreciation of the surface area was largely due to the opening of the first western standard shopping mall, The Avenues, which has a strongly Italian flavour.
The Avenues Mall is not just the largest shopping centre in Kuwait to offer the world’s most famous contemporary luxury and lifestyle brands, but thanks to a wide range of recreational activities it immediately became the most popular destination for families and children.
In this mixture of retail activities, catering and socialising, entertainment and shows, the shopping mall in general has become the emblem of our age — increasingly urbanised, interconnected and yet solitary.
Designed by the Dubai branch of the Canadian architecture firm Norr Group and developed by the Kuwaiti real estate company Mabanee, The Avenues hosts Carrefour, Ikea and 10 Cinescape cinemas. Its air-conditioned avenues offer visitors 250 shops, 35 cafés and restaurants and a novel Food Theatre. Currently extending over 425,000 square metres, when it is completed in 2011 The Avenues will have a surface area of around 1,000,000 square metres and a car park for 14,000 cars.
The first lot of The Avenue has been entirely clad with curtain walls using Almatec 60×120 cm tiles produced by Impronta Ceramiche. The floor covering has also been produced with Almatec 60×120 cm rectified tiles. The use of Almatec through-bodied porcelain tile has reduced the costs of scheduled and reactive maintenance, even in windy, salty environments like that of Kuwait City, which faces onto the sea.