In Kuwait City, climate controls internal spaces. The harsh desert sun in one of the hottest cities in the world sees ambient temperatures rise up to 50 degrees Celsius regularly during the summer. Dust storms are also a regular phenomenon. All colors lose their glamor in the vast stretches of deserts. Thus, this house to be featured in the following extraordinarily stands out against the sand yellow background. The white monolithic volume presents a clean and serene façade to the neighborhood, while the rhythmic arrangement of louvered windows across the façade softens the volume by lending it a sense of lightness. Everything is simple yet elegant.
Site and context
The house in Mishref, a suburb of Kuwait City comprised mostly of 2-3 story detached houses, is home to two brothers and their families with their varying lifestyles and needs for privacy and open spaces. An introverted composition of two separate living units grouped around an internal courtyard, the house is an interpretation of the traditional courtyard house.
A quick survey of existing buildings in the surroundings reveals the following insights: climate-controlled internal spaces are preferred more than open outdoor or semi-outdoor spaces; maximizing the internal built spaces dictates that windows on the perimetric walls become the only source of natural daylight; privacy concerns result in most of these perimetric windows being closed most of the time, resulting in dark and unhealthy interiors; houses usually lack internal social spaces.
How to address these concerns and define optimized design strategies without escalating the budget? Studio Toggle told the answer.
The courtyard and the fountain
The house is organized around an internal courtyard cutting across all the floors. The U-shaped volume faces this courtyard in an Omani stone-clad skin. The courtyard and the void results in an inward-looking typology that can benefit from maximum diffused daylight without compromising on privacy. The house, thus, opens up towards the interior featuring a private courtyard lined with citrus trees and a sculptural fountain reminiscent of the gardens from the Moorish Alcazars.
Circulation loop or social space?
The 4-story courtyard and void presented a question of human scale as well as connectivity between the living units facing each other. A large suspended stair is key to an architectural promenade that sweeps through all the floors, offering vantage points and ease of access.
The interiors of the house features a simple palette of ethereal white and natural woods. The straight and minimal lines of the massing is offset with the sleek curves of spiral staircases. The furniture is carefully chosen and boldly contrasted against the serene ambiance. The calming sound of the water and the diffused light filtered through the louvered windows make this house an oasis of tranquility in this busy Kuwaiti suburb.
This simple palette of ethereal white and natural woods inadvertently brings wabi-sabi into the interior, balancing between the peripheries of minimalism, but not about cold sterility. A key facet of wabi-sabi involves natural simplicity. Nature serves as a reminder to find beauty in imperfection. Overall, its raw textures and forms reflect a passage of age and time, in keeping with the core of the wabi-sabi philosophy. Instead of getting caught up in the cycle of quickly accessible and thrown away items, consider embracing household goods that will last and grow over time.
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