Building projects of all sizes are exciting. I love how the many small details fit into fewer larger ideas to come together in creating a solution, whether it’s a dwelling, a road, a bridge, or even a whole city. Al Hamra, both as a project and a building, is in a class of its own. Even if one is not interested in architecture or skyscrapers, this building is different. It will (already has) change the skyline Kuwait City for ever. The design is simple, beautiful and unique; and it brings a new level of creativity and sophistication to our city. If that’s not enough, it also happens to be the tallest carved building, and one of tallest skyscrapers in the world.
The official website has good information with a reasonable presentation video. The newsletters are a little more interesting. However for real insight into the thought that has gone into this masterpiece, watch this episode of Build it Bigger.
Access was made possible by the very generous Bu Hamad, who I would like to thank again. My friend, Ali, accompanied me on the day and made the visit even more pleasant. We were met with a warm reception as we waited for our escort to join us. He took us to the site without delay and we were free to stay as long as we wanted. I chose to get there late afternoon in order to catch the sunset and to end the visit with a night view of K-Town.
We entered the first lift and watched Kuwait City through the mesh getting smaller as we ascended. I have a slight phobia of very tight places, but height is not really an issue. On a plane, I’m more concerned about being in a closed capsule than the 30,000 feet drop to the ground. However, the height reached by these lifts, which are on the outside of the building, was just staggering. We got out and I thought we were close to the top, surely a couple more floors on the stairs… We were told we had to take another lift that would take us up, another thirty floors or so. I gulped and pretended to have known that all along.
The wind seemed to speak a different language at this altitude, but the familiarity offered by the tens of builders going about their work gave me comfort. Apart from the initial butterflies, I didn’t once think twice… Well you know what I mean.
There is really little point in trying to describe the views. As much as I dislike the overuse of the word awesome, the experience truly was AWESOME. We reached the 74th floor! Kuwait, both city and suburbs, looked like a three-dimensional map. It was fun to see whose house we could spot. There was unfortunately some haze which hindered the very-distant view, but the polariser helped remove some of the reflection in the images.
I tried to capture clean shots of what the eye can see outside, as well as some which included elements of the building itself: scaffolding, ropes, nets etc. I did this to get interesting images but more so to credit the building which made this view possible. A view that will soon be available for us all to enjoy whilst having a nice meal.
I often feel that sunset brings out the best of what Kuwait has to offer: If you’re out in the desert, you would witness shades of red in the sky that only great poets could describe… If you’re sitting by the sea, the golden colours are reflected by the water and the gentle waves… and if you’re walking in the city, the sound of the athan (call for prayer) in the background is celebrated by the city lights as they queue to come on – in a pattern that seems to merge chaos and order together.
From Al Hamra, I enjoyed all of the above… at the same time.
I hope you like the photos and I wish the Al Hamra people a successful completion.