architect | urban designer | researcher

Souk Al Tijar*, Revisited

Undergraduate Thesis

In Modern Day Kuwait, the businesses and trade are all mainly located in the Second Commercial Business District (CBD2) making the project’s site a crucial component of Kuwait. The site is home to the trade, businesses, real estate markets, and major bank headquarters of Kuwait and is encircled with a rich history: Al Mubarakia to the South, the Grand Mosque of Kuwait to the East, the Kuwait Stock Exchange Market to the East, and to the South West is Seif Palace and the historical Al Qibbliya School further West. It is also home to ‘Kaysariyat Al Amir’ which was once the old Tradesmen’s Offices, adding more interest and importance to this site, leading to its development in the late 1950‘s and early 1960’s. The First Master Plan of Kuwait called for much of the historic city to be destroyed to allow room for a modern Kuwait with a distinct city center. This center is comprised of nine CBDs each allocated a function, be it trade, commerce, etc, bounded by the Arabian Persian Gulf on one end and the First Ring Road (site of the Second City Wall) on the other. The driving image of the CBDs was to create parking, office space, pedestrian circulation and outdoor plazas; however, this notion failed due to the increase of users causing the overflow of cars, lack of pedestrian access to and from the site and the misuse of the plazas as parking. The importance of the site (CBD2) in its cultural, financial and geographical aspects only make this area more important, thus suggestions of relocating are turned down. Currently, with the growing economic markets of Kuwait and a younger eager generation emerging in the workforce, the facilities do not meet these demands and allow no room for growth. 

By applying the teachings of Landscape Urbanism, the project will aim at re-creating the image that was envisioned in the early 1960’s through the creation of the city center that houses zones of social interaction in addition to the development of a safer exchange between automobiles and pedestrians. Along with these, inspiration is drawn from traditional Kuwait City and its functional aesthetics. Moreover, the exploration of thresholds (indoor versus outdoors) in the design strategy aiming at creating a merger between the former and latter. Moreover, the current users of the site are predominately older males and the proposal will allow a multitude of varying potential users by introducing components that are geared towards a younger generation and catering for their needs. Vehicular access is widely available; however, pedestrians suffer from the lack of accessible areas which will be addressed by developing a central node which provides social interaction pockets. 

The project is seen as trigger that will spur further development in the adjacent areas and currently misused spaces that are part of the ‘older’ (1960’s) urban fabric. 

* ‘Souk Al Tijar’ , roughly translates to Tradesmen’s Market, is the main commerce hub in Kuwait, where anyone who has a strong name in business has an office, similar to New York’s Wall Street.