Reima Pietilä's 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kuwait

History and Development

MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Kuwait. Architects: Reima and Raili Pietila, 1985. In my book, I reevaluate the Pietiläs’ Kuwait project thirty years after its completion and show that the Ministry buildings have undergone significant transformations. AbovePhoto of Ministry complex taken from the minaret of the newly built Grand Mosque in 1986.

وزارة الشؤون الخارجية الشهيرة (التي بنيت عام 1986) من قبل المهندس المعماري الفنلندي ريما بييتيلا واردة في أهم الكتب الدولية في العمارة الحديثة. ولا تقل أهمية عن الجمعية الوطنية في أوتزون أو أبراج الكويت. منذ عام 2012 لقد زرت المباني والتقطت الصور. لم يسبق  للمهندسين أو المتخصصين أن زاروا المباني منذ عام 1986

Exposition curated by Gareth Griffith

The research has been presented in a chapter (70 pages) in my book Transcultural Architecture:  The Limits and Opportunities of Critical Regionalism (Ashgate 2015)

Conference paper "Pietila revisited... revisited...." Afterthoughts  (2018). 

Reima Pietilä

I discuss the urban plan of the Finnish architects, explain the difference between “Transcultural Architecture” and Critical Regionalism, and show how the Sief Palace Area project is related to those differences. In 2011, I revisited Pietilä’s Ministry of Foreign affairs in Kuwait, which no person with an interest in architecture has visited since 1986.

 

Pietilä Kuwait project consisted of two different tasks that were interrelated: the establishment of an urban plan for Kuwait and the construction of three buildings in the central part of the city. Second, the Sief Palace Buildings are a school case permitting reflection on the possibilities and limits of Critical Regionalism. The project started with the best intentions but ran into problems that can be considered as paradigmatic. Only a thorough analysis of the planning history, the context, the reception of the building as well as the architect’s theoretical ideas can clarify the complications from which this project has suffered.

 

The chapter also contains a 5000 words long subchapter providing a theoretical foundation of Transculturalism and, in architecture, its relationship with Critical Regionalism.

Street facade (Plan from 1983). Accomplished accordingly in 1986. No photos extant.

Same part of the facade after renovation in late 1990s (photo from 2011).

New facelift of same part in December 2016.

June 2017:  The original brick and concrete slab fence has been demolished and replaced with a cast iron fence. 

Old

New

Detail of facade in 1986

Same detail in 2011

Old

Half open corridor in 1986

New

Old

Same corridor after additions in 1994

Courtyard in 1986

New

With artifical grass in 2017

Same courtyard in 2012

Old

Coral fountain in 1986

New

Same fountain since probably 1993

West entrance in 2012 with fountain and an added small arch for service entrance.

Old

New

Detail of west facade in 2012...

Same detail in 2017. The fountain has disappeared

North facade:

As planned and built

Same detail in 2017. The fountain has disappeared.

North facade now

East facade:

After modifications in 2014

Same facade during new modifications in 2018

Old

New

Same place today

Terrace in 1986

Main hall in 1986

...and in 2012. Tiles have been eliminated immediately after construction. The rugged ceiling shape has also been recitified.

Old

East entrance in 2012.

New

Same spot in 2017

Slideshow

Pictures from the Pietila Archive, Helsinki

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