Twin towers in Kuwait City reference vernacular Arabic architecture | Dezeen
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Burj Alshaya by Gensler

Twin towers in Kuwait City reference vernacular Arabic architecture

Architecture firm Gensler has completed a pair of towers in Kuwait City featuring facades that recall traditional Arabic screens, with one containing offices and the other a hotel with interiors by Yabu Pushelberg.

The building comprises two towers connected by a podium topped with a roof terrace.

One tower contains a new headquarters for local retail giant Alshaya, while the other is occupied by a Four Seasons hotel with distinctive interiors by Canadian duo George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg.

The studio is renowned for its work in the hospitality sector, with previous projects including the design of interiors for the Four Seasons Downtown New York hotel and guest rooms featuring space-saving foldaway furniture for the Moxy Times Square hotel.

Burj Alshaya by Gensler

Gensler was responsible for the architectural design of the Burj Alshaya development, which it described as influenced by regional architectural tradition, specifically the concept of enclosing windows behind a latticework screen called a mashrabiya to provide shade and privacy.

A three-dimensional lattice extends across the east and west elevations of the towers and much of the podium.

Burj Alshaya by Gensler

Its design aims to root the building in its context while improving efficiency by mitigating the effects of solar radiation and high ambient temperatures.

"The architectural expression takes the concept of traditional mashrabiya shading in local architecture and reinterprets it to create a new focal point for the city's elite social scene," Gensler principal and global hospitality leader, Tom Lindblom, told Dezeen.

Burj Alshaya by Gensler

"Its modulating aluminium facade is both visually appealing and enhances users' privacy during the day," continued Lindblom.

According to the architect, the diamond pattern of the lattice represents a contemporary interpretation of the mashrabiya screen, and produces a dynamic aesthetic that catches the eye when viewed from the surrounding neighbourhood.

Burj Alshaya by Gensler

The perforated metal fins alter in scale across the facades and are positioned to ensure optimal solar protection for the occupied interior spaces, as well as the roof terraces on top of each tower.

The Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait at Burj Alshaya hotel occupies 22 storeys of the smaller tower and has 284 rooms and suites, alongside two ballrooms, conference suites, restaurants, a pool and terrace, and a spa.

Four Seasons by Yabu Pushelberg.

The hotel's interiors were designed by Yabu and Pushelberg to complement the exterior's contemporary Arabic expression.

A notable feature of the interior is the spiral stair that forms the centrepiece of the lobby. Alongside this circulation space is the Al Soor lobby lounge – one of the five restaurants housed in the building.

Four Seasons by Yabu Pushelberg.

The geometric patterning of the mashrabiya is referenced throughout the hotel in the form of carpets, screens and surface treatments such as the tessellated suspended ceiling above one of the ballrooms.

Gensler was responsible for the hotel's way finding and signage, while the landscaping was designed by PLandscape. The international architecture practice is also working on a pair of towers in Sri Lanka connected by a sky bridge, and a members' club in Los Angeles backed by actress Gwyneth Paltrow.

Four Seasons by Yabu Pushelberg.

The 42-storey office tower adjoining the hotel provides around 60,000 square metres of office space for Alshaya, with a further 2,000 square metres of retail space accommodated in the basement level.

The overall design of the development is intended to distinguish it from its surroundings and introduce a significant addition to the evolving city, which photographer Nelson Garrido documented in a series of images exploring Kuwait's expansion over the past 40 years.

Four Seasons by Yabu Pushelberg.

"We created a landmark that delivers the functional requirement with an interpretation of local vernacular culture in a contemporary manner—serving guests with care and pride, while echoing Alshaya's philosophy and the Four Seasons brand," Lindblom added.

Other projects completed recently in the country include a minimalist housing development overlooking a manmade canal, and a stone-clad medical centre designed to look like a cultural building.

Exterior photography by Hufton + Crow. Interior photography by Virgile Bertrand.

More images

Burj Alshaya by Gensler
Burj Alshaya by Gensler
Burj Alshaya by Gensler
Burj Alshaya by Gensler
Burj Alshaya by Gensler
Burj Alshaya by Gensler
Four Seasons by Yabu Pushelberg.
Four Seasons by Yabu Pushelberg.
Four Seasons by Yabu Pushelberg.
Four Seasons by Yabu Pushelberg.
Four Seasons by Yabu Pushelberg.
Four Seasons by Yabu Pushelberg.
Four Seasons by Yabu Pushelberg.
Four Seasons by Yabu Pushelberg.
Four Seasons by Yabu Pushelberg.