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Pavilion of Kuwait
At the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia

Commissioned by the National Council for Culture, Arts, and Letters (NCCAL), the Kuwait pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia responds to the theme set forth, ‘How will we live together?,’ through the discovery, interpretation, and projection of the hinterland.

Oftentimes viewed as a counter to the forms that constitute the metropolitan, the surrounding and seemingly unoccupied landscape serves as the nation’s functional staging ground through resource extraction, agricultural cultivation, military installations and cultural sedimentation. While necessary for the support and production that fund and logistically provide for the city-state, these landscapes remain isolated, both spatially and in discourse.

For Kuwait, the year 2021 marks the 70th anniversary of the first master plan and the 30th anniversary of the Gulf War (also known as the ‘First Space War’). As we absorb the year and the milestone it represents, new development plans are set that inform the expansion beyond the metropolitan – ultimately converging with the hinterland. As the radial city’s imminent growth looms, the status of these spaces remains in question. Their competing functions and ambiguous growth patterns will inevitably lead to ‘space wars’ that compete for survival.

How will these spaces continue to exist next to, between, and amidst one another? Will their spatial territories surrender to the metropolitan’s expansion campaign? The participation entitled Space Wars aims to address these questions in order to define the future of these spaces under threat – threat from extinction, overuse, domination, and, at times, the threat of being forgotten.

Kuwait’s regional positioning has generated historical references through which the hinterland can be read and, at a scale vulnerable to analysis, allows it to be scrutinized. This year’s approach positions Kuwait as a case study to understand these past, present, and future narratives. Thus, within a wider discourse, it offers itself as a test bed to expand the scope of the architect towards the hinterland.

The curators, Asaiel Al Saeed, Aseel AlYaqoub, Saphiya Abu Al-Maati and Yousef Awaad, working across the boundaries of architecture, art, policy and urbanism, were selected in response to Zahra Ali Baba’s interest in commissioning projects that engage with the cultural expressions and archaeological histories embodied in the desert landscape and the intelligence of land management inherited within what seems to be a priori of the urban form. As an interdisciplinary team, the approach combines contributions from multi-disciplinary practitioners to highlight questions surrounding the future of land at the verge of consumption and erasure, potentially risking the total loss of hypothetical histories yet to be written.
Space Wars
May 22 - November 22, 2021      
Artiglierie Arsenale, Venice, Italy

Zahra Ali Baba, National Council for Culture Arts and Letters

Asaiel Al Saeed, Aseel AlYaqoub, Saphiya Abu Al-Maati, Yousef Awaad

Contributions and Collaborations:
Abdullah AlGhunaim, Atlas of Places, Ayesha Kamal Khan, Aiysha Alsane, Bab.nimnim, Dani Ploeger, David Green, Faysal Tabbarah, Formless Finder, Jawad Altabtabai, LCLA Office, Abdulaziz AlJassim, Mohammed Alkouh, Maees Hadi, Nada Al Qallaf, Post Petroleum Society, Reem Alissa, Dana Alhasan, Samia Henni, Sara Alajmi, Sara Al-Ateeqi, Sijal Collective, Studio Toggle, The Open Workshop

Project Coordinators:
Jaber Al Qallaf, Alaa Baroun

Art Direction:
TB.D Studio

Website: www.kwtpavilion.com
Email: info@kwtpavilion.com
Instagram: @space__wars

ⓒ Aseel AlYaqoub, 2022