With the brilliant blue skies draped over us these few days, it’s hard to stop thinking like a photographer. Yesterday, I decided to capture a few shots of the water towers – something I’ve been wanting to do for some time now. I wasn’t prepared for how and where to get the best shots. Even more so, I wasn’t prepared for the welcome and hospitality of the people there.
Not only did the gentleman invite me in… he handed me a cold bottle of water assuring me that I could take as much time as I needed. It was like a dream. On my way out, I stopped at the gate-office to thank him and his friends/colleagues. I spent nearly an hour chatting, drinking coffee and, as if this wasn’t impressive enough, we discussed photography. They were genuinely interested in the subject and asked many interesting questions about what makes a photo. I was so overwhelmed by the positive reception, and how nice the people were, I forgot to ask the most basic of questions! For instance I don’t know how many towers there are here, I have no idea about their capacity, nor do I know the height of each tower. I would make a terrible investigative journalist, the worst in history.
The design of these towers goes back to the golden days of Kuwait. Back to a time when we were making a bold statement to the world. Kuwait was emerging as the modern city out of the sea and desert. It was not enough to have things functional and doing-the-job. There was a sense of difference which had to be achieved – often through an amazing attention to detail. I’ve been around the world, and water towers are ugly and unsightly. Here, they have become a landmark of each major suburb, and a design icon that says Kuwait as soon as you see a glimpse of the shape.
To achieve this pleasing result whilst maintaining a minimalist design, there are some aspects that are not immediately apparent, at least not to me. I’ve seen these towers from the air (you could try Google Earth too). The symmetry in their locations, as well as their simple and elegant shapes, are beautifully finished by the elegant white and blue lines. Two colours, no more, and simple stripes from top to bottom. The genius is in the matching of the lines: look at how all the lines correspond from one tower to another.
For readers from outside Kuwait, below is what the towers look like from the street level. They’re visible from the highways and local parks. They’re grouped together on farms, each tower standing as tall as a 10-storey building. When I took the three shots below taken from a little distance, the dry land in the composition made me think just how much this place is a Concrete Oasis.
To the staff on site: Thank you for your warm welcome, your interest and of course for your wonderful hospitality.