Lecture Series


Each speaker explained one of their projects or a concept which could enhance the social life of the people, respond to the climate through architecture.

Hosted at Kuwait University and Al Shaheed Park.



Ricardo Camacho

- Lead Architect and Partner at Promontorio.


Karim Jamal,1 architect to the Kuwait municipality, reviewed the foreign influence of architects and planners in the post-colonial Middle East and north Africa as an “imposition of Western technology onto an established Arab society,”2 which became the ground for “dumping Western type schemes (…) with no questions asked.”3

The development of the modern architect in the Middle East has been primarily influenced by western models. At the 8th Congress of the UIA, dedicated to “the training of architects” in 1965, scholar Abdel Baki Mohamed Ibrahim criticized these models and resultant principles of functionalism, purism, rationalism and expressionism in his presentation of the Egyptian case, describing them as being related to visual and superficial aspects of architecture. Ibrahim highlighted an individualism and self esteem among the “architects,” in their roles as practitioners and professors, emphasizing the lack of integration between their practice and their “different philosophies and theories,” which he saw as the main reason for dropping the discipline into chaos. This “chaos of principles and theories” has, he suggested, left a young generation of Arab architects “not knowing their way through.” 

These apparently correlated motivations that still exist throughout the region, remain at the threshold of architectural practice, critique, and visual arts. The lecture will use our work in the region to look at three moments: the need for context, where a project can only exist in a very specific place and situation (1); the need for typo-logical innovation in response to present conditions, neither past, neither future (2); the relevance of a cross-disciplinary practice which is conscious of architecture as a cultural production (3)


Hussain M. Dashti

 Assistant professor at the Department of Architecture at Kuwait University, Kuwait.



The presentation discusses the role of emergent technology in legitimating “mass-customized” place-related structures. It argues that computational (parametric) thinking in architectural design allows for the invention of complex architectural form that humans could not perceive in their mind. Conversely, computational form is of such complexity that the human brain could not think of and certainly the human hand could not sketch using conventional drawings. The paper sheds light on new non-conventional mind sets trying to assess and evaluate means of “Legitimating” the built environment. The main hypothesis in this presentation is that this technology (parametric design thinking) is legitimating a new set of architectural typologies based on the power of this technology to incorporate technical legitimacy at a micro and macro level. The use of this para-metrically driven technology for the design and fabrication of products and buildings has been quite expansive recently. However, the potential of using similar computational mind sets has not been fully utilized heuristically on macro scales such cities and towns.


Rafael Portillo

Pace Lead Designer. 



“Invisible city” is both figurative and literal, which can be derived from the multiple readings of a city in Italo Calvino’s book Invisible Cities or the actual absence of people on the streets, malls, and public space in Kuwait. What do you document if its not there? There is McDonald’s, Starbucks, Costa Coffee, but no ancient city wall.  What identifies the city of Kuwait as a culture and the country as an identity? This is a three part exploration on Kuwait from intuitive city mapping and narratives to vernacular


Sulaiman Alothman

AA MArch EmTech - KU TA



The Twist installation exploits the properties of milled plywood, within series of material test and computation processes. The experiments were contextualized into a full-scale structure that was exhibited at the Timber Expo in Birmingham. The system is primarily composed of two plywood strip elements: the “ribs” and the “wings.” Computational techniques used to generate forms were calibrated based on the results of physical experiments on plywood strips. These tests—on the possible twisting angles that could be achieved with different end rotations and rib radii—identified the effective range of the geometries and served as the bridge between the physical and digital realms.  

Quake response develops a novel seismic resistant construction system with the objective of providing innocuous evacuation of people to a safe zone in an urban scenario, in the event of an earthquake. The design deals with developing a material system of topologically interlocking, mortar-less bricks for the city of Istanbul, which is expected to be struck by an earthquake of 7.2 magnitudes in the near future. The aim of this dissertation is to propose and prove the viability of such a solution, within the existing urban fabric of the city. (I will only highlight the material system and its properties that led to the emergence of shell/wall structures)

Self-transforming carbon fiber involves examining its material behavior the designed anisotropic properties, in reference to manipulating the printed grain direction of the active material—a technology developed by the Self-Assembly Lab—in addition to a digital and computational approach for designing the structure. These are contextualized within a design proposal to develop a large-scale, “light-activated” carbon fiber installation for BSA Space in Boston. A thermally active polymer with a high-shrinkage value is 3D-printed onto a fully cured, continuous, flat carbon fiber sheet that is light-activated, transforming its shape into a helix structure.