Kuwait Pavilion, Kethra

This year marked Kuwait’s first participation in the 13th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, entitled Common Ground. Kuwait’s pavilion at the Arsenale, entitled Kethra – meaning overflowing fullness or surplus, was commissioned by the National Council for Culture, Arts, and Letters (NCAAL). The exhibition was curated and organized by Zahra Ali Baba and Deputy Curators Ricardo Camacho and Deema Al Ghunaim, as well as a team of young volunteers aspiring to be a part of this global platform and moreover, their country’s first participation in it.

Conceptual Sketch

Visitors of Kethra at the Venice Biennale are welcomed by a space with speakers hanging from the wooden framework of the ceiling while playing recorded sounds and voices in an alternate radial sequence, while a groundwork of archives of Kuwait’s many proposed and buried master plans are laid out. The dialogue between the sounds and master plans represent the link between social gatherings and the urban context, while cushions surround the untouched walls of the space mimick the setting of the people’s many  forms of gathering and networks tracing back to pre-oil Kuwait.


Radial Sequence



The pavilion with its simplicity proves to be a lively interactive space, inviting visitors to join the various gatherings on its perimeter while listening intently to the echoing sounds of the speakers above. Each set of speakers alternates in sequence resonating eight zones of the urban context: Domestic, Public, Periphery, Void, Worship, Governmental, Diwaniya, and Parliament,  that can be followed with the a graphic representation of the sequence handed out at the pavilion.



The master plans are a constant reminder of the several studies held for the development of Kuwait’s urban context, as well as a reminder of the stagnation in development some of these plans unfortunately underwent.


By chance.. Prof. Alberico Belgiojoso from BBPR Milano visited Kuwait Pavilion. In the photo he is standing next to one of his early studies about Kuwait City development


As suggested by Kethra, the pavilion ultimately aims to portray “The socio spatial typologies emerging from a culture of gathering [that] can be traced back to pre-oil Kuwait. Increasing in density by a welfare state economy, these local habits of information gathering and distribution are registers of a critical condition between abundance and overflow. kethra is an expansive gesture, a map of potential proximity and accessibility, influencing scenarios of rapid change.”








President Paolo Baratta at Kethra Kuwait Pavilion


Images Copyright @archofkuwait & @kuwaitpavilion


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