Client: Kuwait Real Estate Company
Architecture, Landscaping and Interior Design: PAD10 (Naji Moujaes, Johnny Salman)
Team: Tarek Aherraki, Rohan Almeida, Alia Al Azzeh, Kholoud Salman, Ray Yadao, Hassan Zaman
Structural Engineer Phase 1: STCI Contractor Phase 1: Al Bahar & Bardawi Contractor Phase 2: Fajr Al-Eman
Pearl Marzouq, a modern architectural beacon, docked in the early seventies on the shores of the Arabian Gulf. Combining the drive of Mr. Khaled Al-Marzouq to develop dense mixed-use projects, fitting awkwardly with a landscape ready to sprawl, with the vision of the young architect Sabah Abi Hanna, this modern housing complex was erected on an 11,140 sqm plot in Ras Al-Salmiya known as “Lo’loat (Pearl) Al-Marzouq” Complex. The building, located on the tip of a peninsula, conceals itself from the main Gulf Road running all along the coastline. Its seawater-swimming pool was directly located on the Arabian Gulf, until the eighties, when the Scientific Center’s green promenade strip stepped in between the turquoise sea and the sandstone walls.
The building has four blocks, internalizing a courtyard. A wide raised corridor wraps around with different communal programs feeding into it. The raised “artificial ground” becomes a social space with built-in marble benches and flower beds, insulating the raised plinth from the streets around and the commercial shops in the buildings’ pilotis.
The southern block, along the main road, is only 2-storeys high; letting the generous sunlight into the courtyard. The other three residential blocks are each constituted of nine floors atop the ground floor, with five elevator stops on split-level corridors; four duplexes are topped by single-floor penthouses. The side blocks span around 100 m between the road and the sea, with 10 apartments laid side-by-side on every floor. The back block, fronting the sea along 64 m, lines eight apartments on each floor to enjoy the most beautiful Sugimotos framed by deep punched fenestrations.
Kuwait Real Estate Company commissioned PAD10 to renovate the Pearl Marzouq complex exteriors, including the facades and the landscape, and interiors, including the penthouses, the duplex apartments, and the basement parking. Maintaining the building’s iconicity, PAD10 rethought the program, specifically on the ground floor, connecting the building to its unique setting and externalizing its courtyard into a public garden, reviving an urban character of pre-oil projects in their ability to create a place around them, and the post-oil character of the deep-punched or double-skin facades.
The facade of the building is a key visual of its iconic status. After decades of being exposed to the elements, the sandstone has given to falling. This brings into question its safety and that of the complex’s residents. To maintain the familiar visage of the edifice and address the practical issues at hand, an expanded aluminum mesh has been overlaid with two alternating apertures. This also serves to balance the staggered pattern of the existing facade. The mesh straddles the lines of allowing maximum visibility of the stone underneath by having a wide aperture, which narrows along the building corners to bend around the edges. As part of the retooling, the apartment openings were enlarged to maximize the unique views enjoyed by the building’s proximity to the sea.
To take further advantage of this view, bay windows now replace the walk-in closets situated along the facade wall of the bedrooms. The dining room windows were also enlarged and single glass panels are now in place instead of aluminum rail bars. The punched expression is maintained with the existing balconies and reinforced at times by projecting the newly added or altered windows.
The Duplex Unit: Accessed at a split level, this apartment unit is split into lower living and upper sleeping quarters. Living and dining areas share a generous frontage with attractive unobstructed views. The apartments are well-planned with conveniences including a guest bathroom, a large storage and maid’s bedroom with bathroom adjacent to the kitchen. On the upper floor, spacious bedrooms with bathrooms and shared spaces complete the picture to create a modern home for the discerning few.
The One Bedroom Penthouse: Flooded with daylight, via windows and skylights, the apartment enjoys the views of the surrounding setting via windows and skylights. The living and dining spacious areas are conveniently served by a kitchen and a guest bathroom. The master suite’s spaciousness renders the apartment ideal for couples.
The Three Bedroom Penthouse: Flooded with daylight and immaculate views, this apartment mimics the duplex units’ spacious areas. Open dining and living areas, with a generous terrace frontage, are served by a kitchen with an adjacent maid’s room and separate service access. The master suites with two other bedrooms are accessed via a vestibule that also opens up to the mudroom and the guest bathroom.
The three residential blocks could earlier be accessed via three separate entrances. These have now been centralized into one main central lobby accessing a central garden. Currently, the commercial strip opens to the outside and is populated with programs which are of little or no relevance to the residents. These will soon get double exposure with access to the garden for seating areas. The programs to be introduced include cafes, restaurants, laundromat, pharmacy, daycare, minimarket, spa and other outlets that might be useful to the residents. This step also animates the garden as a central tool for the community, making it a space where residents and visitors can interact and socialize.
Previously, the garden was a residual enclave of the courtyard typology building. With time, fences and mechanical clutter took over the space; rendering it unfriendly and run down to say the least. To revive the garden, the long commercial perimeter is being internalized into it. This move is also coupled with rendering it central in accessing the building through a main lobby, open to the street, leading centrally to it. A sense of community prevails as cafes, restaurants, art galleries, kids’ stores, and other programs that utilize the open space are added to the mix. Once a swimming pool, a deep soil will infill it to be topped by palm trees “oasis” which will play host to a sculpture garden. Small pods of fountains, reflecting pools, built-in benches and sandboxes run central to the garden, flanked by open areas around the edges for seating. Along the seaside, a private Residents Club separates the public garden from the pool area, with an elevated wood deck overlooking it.
Images are copyrighted to Pad10