New Headquarters for Ministry of Education
"Distinctive and Elegant Architectural Landmark that combines Advanced Structural and Engineering Solutions with Graceful Aesthetics."
ACI-KC’s prestigious Award of Excellence is given to a significant and deserving project that has been substantially completed over the preceding two years. In general the award recognises:
Outstanding and creative concrete usage
Innovative architectural and structural design
Response to cultural considerations and traditions
Architectural landmarks and iconic structures
High standards of construction and creative use of concrete
Renewal and renovation projects, and
Public appreciation of a project.
In recognising an outstanding project, the Chapter honours the Developer or Owner of the project, and acknowledges the contribution of design and supervision consultants, the general contractor and main concrete supplier.
The Award of Excellence for Year 2018 was presented to the new Headquarters for Ministry of Education, which was honoured as a distinctive and elegant architectural landmark that combines advanced structural and engineering solutions with graceful aesthetics.
Historical Background and Vision
The nucleus of Ministry of Education goes back to 1936, at the time of Sheikh Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah, when a council of 12 elected members headed by Sheikh Abdullah Al Jaber Al Sabah was established to manage formal education in Kuwait. The council operated from a room in Al Madrassa Al Mubarakiya, but in 1947 they moved to a rented house. In 1949, the building pictured here became their Headquarters. Since then, as expected, their responsibilities and operations have substantially increased and their present Headquarters and various satellite offices were no longer adequately suited to their work. The need for modern headquarters became inevitable.
In commissioning their new building the Ministry’s stated objectives were quite clear. They wanted a world class and sustainable headquarters that could justifiably be called a workplace of the future. They wanted one central and consolidated facility that would symbolise its commitment towards promoting, enabling, and delivering on their mandate for providing high quality educational services to Kuwait’s citizens and residents.
Design Metaphor and Conception
The Dhow, Kuwait’s traditional sailing vessel was adopted as the key design metaphor, as its imagery evokes the nation’s rich traditions of fishing, sea trading and ship building.
The outcome is a magnificent architectural icon, the massing of which suggests the vision of dhows passing one another on the open sea. The curvilinear forms gracefully modulate the sheer scale of this large building that will ultimately accommodate over 3500 employees.
The new headquarters is located in South Surrah, in the zone allocated to prominent state buildings. The building is set diagonally on a 40,000 m˛ site, essentially in response to the path of Kuwait’s harsh sun and to optimise on the prevailing shamal winds. This orientation also helps in opening up its southwestern side, in turn creating a generous shaded arrival and drop-off area.
The building’s massing is comprised of 2 curved towers of 11 and 9 floors, with 3 basements totaling about 101,000 m˛ that accommodate 1650 cars. The total built-up area is about 136,000 m˛.
Although it is extensively sheathed in glass, automatically operated sun-shading devices have been integrated in the façade. These create a protective wall which also helps enhance the building’s visual impact.
Major Design Features
The main feature is a grand 11-storey skylit atrium that is both, visually andprogrammatically, the heart of the building. It forms the central reception, communication and circulation space, serving as a vibrant hub for employees and visitors. The voluminous atrium will also accommodate special events, exhibitions, lectures, cultural events and celebratory ceremonies.
The space is capped with inflated ETFE pillows that permit daylight to penetrate across the entire space. A series of hanging stairs, bridges and open decks crisscross the atrium, connecting multiple office levels. This is indeed a lively animated space.
Sustainability considerations have been woven into every aspect of this project, externally and internally, and while daylight penetrates throughout the building, direct harsh sunlight and glare are controlled by a hyperion system in-built into the shading devices. This is an automatic solar-adaptive shading system that helps minimise cooling loads and reduce energy consumption.
Interiors reflect a comfortable ambience designed to achieve conducive working, breakout and collaborative conditions by using carefully selected colours and materials, as well as controlled natural, general and task lighting.The building also has a 600 seat well-appointed auditorium fitted with the latest audio-visual and translation systems.
All interiors have been furnished with contemporary furniture and the spatial experience is enhanced by effective wayfinding, and a wide range of amenities.
The facades of the building slope outwards 11.00 m and 6.5 m on the north/south and east/west sides respectively. This is achieved by creating stepped external columns that project out 900 mm and 500m at each floor level.
Hanging stairs in the atrium are formed from rectangular hollow structural steel stringers, which are supported at the landings by tension rods suspended from cantilevered trusses located at the roof level. Bridges across the atrium are a series of triangular bowstring trusses that support composite slabs, comprised of concrete laid on corrugated steel decking. The lightweight ETFE pillows over the atrium are supported on tension rod structures that span from 20-50 m.
It is no surprise that the building incorporates an extensive array of sophisticated electro-mechanical installations. Carefully and sustainably designed systems within the building include automated environmental and lighting controls, and advanced access control and security systems. Emergency and uninterrupted power supply, integrated building management and monitoring system, comprehensive IT infrastructure, automated solar and controlled motorised blinds. Raised flooring has been incorporated on all office floors.
ACI-KC was advised that MOE Headquarters building has recently received two major Middle East Economic Digest awards. It was awarded as the Social Cultural Heritage Project of the Year, both in the National and GCC categories.
Ministry of Public Works.
Ministry of Education.
- General Contractor
Mohammed Abdul Mohsen Al Kharafi and Sons.
- International Consultant
Cambridge Seven Associates, USA.
- Local Consultant
Dar Gulf Consult.
- Main Concrete Supplier
Kuwait British Ready Mix.