Brutalist Souqs

The article Souq Brutal by Sara Saragoca Soares states that, “Kuwait, as the first and most extreme case of post-oil modernization, contextualises the challenges of a nation-building project. Under the Master Plan of 1952, road networks and new neighborhood units were rigidly planned and implemented outside the city wall. The old cohesive settlement was radically abandoned and transformed into a business district. Up until the 1970s, the desired Modern Kuwait failed to integrate the older city, lacking a clear urban identity and a civic sense of belonging. The idea of self-contained units was encouraged in an attempt to recover a lost city and meet the needs of a new society. The initiative resulted in multiple modern souqs scattered all across Kuwait City. By their size and volume, these exuberant concrete buildings rapidly became a dominant feature of the cityscape, projecting a hegemonic image of modernity. Today, both local and foreign scholars have labelled them brutalist.”

Souq Al Manakh: built between 1973 and 75. According to this article, its name comes from the term “nakha” which refers to a camel in a sitting posture because the location of the structure used to be a destination for camel caravans. After its construction it became an unofficial stock market, which crashed in 1982.

Souq Al Kuwait: built between 1973 and 1976

Souk Al Masseel: in his article Fragmentarium, Robert Fabbri writes that, “the modernist car parks/souks–such as Al-Mutteheda and Al-Masseel (built by Bonington Partnership, 1973-79)… once experimental typologies intended to reintroduce retail and residential functions in the city–today offer inexpensive Chinese goods, household products, luggage, and counterfeit luxury bands as well as beverages and street food in a shaded, air-conditioned interior.”

Souq al Safat: built between 1973 and 1975, Kuwait Modern Architecture states that in the 1970s many multipurpose buildings were designed “catered to supply the needs and expectations of a new cosmopolitan wave in the modern city”

Souq Al Kabeer: built between 1973 and 1976, “developed in parallel with Souq Al Kuwait and the Al-Rehab Complex”

Souq Al Wataniya: built between 1974 and 1979, according to Kuwait Modern Architecture it was designed to include “high-end duplex apartments with 2 or 3 bedrooms…. Open to landscaped communal courts with fountains, and covered parking. These ‘courtyard houses’ on the rooftop echo the traditional street life of the demolished old town”

Here are some great photographs of Al Wataniya in the early 1980s from the MIT Library.


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