As a new museum complex, the Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre (ASCC) in Kuwait is poised to become the cultural district within the country’s capital, alongside the Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre. Both centres are designed by SSH – a master planning, infrastructure, building design, construction supervision and project management firm in the Middle East. The new complex is made up of six main buildings, including a National History Museum, Science Museum, Museum of Islamic History, Space Museum, Fine Arts Cen-tre, as well as a theatre. Each building will house an array of permanent and temporary exhibitions and artworks.“The Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre is a fitting and spectacular addition to Kuwait’s cultural heritage, and sets out to embrace the rich diversity of the world’s finest achievements,” said George Abi-Hanna, managing director of SSH Kuwait.

 

The buildings within the complex are connected by a central ‘street’ which winds around the complex, referenc-ing the traditional ferej, or neighbourhood, found in Kuwait and nearby countries. The meandering walkways mirror the experience of walking down a typical, busy Kuwait street. The ‘street’, which serves as the central spine of the complex, links the “wide-span flexible” buildings from the city en-trance from the south of the site to the sea in the north-east. The buildings and the circulation spaces between them are shaded and partially climatically controlled by a 200m-long solar shade canopy, with cantilevers of 30m.Consisting of an inverted structure, this allows the instal-lation of 2,000 LED-lit shingles, which is parametrically de-signed linked by a DMX controller to provide evening light shows, in addition to daytime shade. The orientation of the shingles creates a downdraft to lower the ambient tempera-ture by 10 degrees, while providing shading space between the buildings. Ranging from 3sq-m to 9sq-m in area, each shingle consists of a single piece of fibreglass that reflects ambient light and creates effects to celebrate national holi-days and events. Additionally, the shingles are able to create a live light show that reacts to sound and climatic variation through environmental conditions, while being indepen-dently yet collectively controlled.The exterior cladding of the building and the roof paving is made using marble from Turkey called Skyline, which fea-tures a defined vein orientation in the quarry strata. “Skyline has all the technical and aesthetic characteristics to fulfill the strict requirements of the scheme,” the architects say of the material. The museum is expected to be open to visitors sometime in the near future.

 

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