Kuwait University College of ArtsEdit profile
The benefits of campus life"the sense of inhabiting an academic community, the chance meetings that evolve into intellectual explorations, the shared experiences that help cement pluralistic and humanistic values"are not currently available to students at Kuwait University. With this understanding, the University identified four principal needs for the new College of Arts building: - State-of-the-art facilities to support the liberal arts curriculum - A generous provision of shared and common study and gathering spaces to encourage community - LEED-NC Silver certification or higher (United States Green Building Council - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Rating System) - A visual signature that reflects both the College’s modern approach and regional traditions Kuwait’s large swings in temperature"from 35ºF to 145 ºF"and relative humidity"from 5 to 85%"challenged the design team to find innovative ways to balance community with comfort and expansiveness with efficiency. The design solution addresses these goals by lifting the mass of the building off the ground plane. This formal move provides building occupants with an easily accessed sequence of self-shaded and passively ventilated study/gathering spaces. Interior courtyard spaces with inward-sloped walls create self-shaded vertical “tents` and “tent gardens. Courtyard surfaces are glazed to provide shared internal views and daylight to each floor. At vertical circulation, terraced stadium seating provides informal study space that promotes community awareness and interaction. Passive ventilation enhances occupant comfort while reducing energy use, allowing the building systems to apply climate variations rather than fight them. The design team looked to traditional desert shelters for tested ideas of passive sustainability. The diwaniya tent, a traditional gathering place, holds a special significance in the region: its social function, materiality, form, and environmental performance are sophisticated responses to specific environmental and cultural conditions. The combination of self-shading building mass, a chimney effect at the “tents`, operable fold-up walls, and vegetated grilles and walls passively ventilate and cool the ground level shared spaces. The high variability of temperature and relative humidity required holistic, integrated systems to achieve a passively ventilated environment that can perform effectively throughout the seasons. Engineering studies for the project show that outside air at 120 ºF can be cooled to a tolerable 80 ºF at the shaded building interior. A variety of thermal and fluid-dynamic analytical software systems identified and refined the design strategies to meet aggressive interior comfort goals. On the exterior, the high-performance building envelope reduces solar heat gain and has a net thermal resistance of 20. The horizontal “stone thread` solar shades evoke local building and weaving traditions, while providing controlled daylight and views. By providing spaces for a viable and vibrant campus life, the College of Arts helps propagate a humanistic approach to teaching and learning. The design confidently asserts the value of sustainable design in an extreme climate and helps demonstrate the effectiveness and versatility of carbon-neutral technologies and practices. By rendering these functionalities in a contemporary architectural form that recalls the vernacular design of the Arabian Gulf, the College demonstrates the powerful ways contemporary architecture can help contribute to solutions to global social, political, and ecological challenges.