The $775-million Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre (SJAAC), designed by SSH - one of the leading masterplanning, infrastructure and building design firms in the Middle East - has been opened in Kuwait.
The new facility will showcase performing arts and create a world-class theatre quarter in a spacious parkland setting. Together with Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre, it will form Kuwait’s new national cultural district.
The cultural centre includes a performing arts centre, music centre, concert halls, cinemas, conference centre, historical documents centre as well as libraries, parks, and fountains.
The project, procured on a design-build basis, saw SSH being appointed by Al Hani Construction and Trading Company. It was completed in a record time of 22 months, said the company.
SSH was the lead architecture and engineering designer for the project working with the world’s renowned specialists in lighting, acoustics, theatre engineering and historical archives.
The company worked closely with theatre engineers and acoustic specialists to create multiple performance spaces that are sophisticated in design and engineering.
The four jewel-styled buildings are set to be the centrepieces of the new cultural district in central Kuwait, close to historic Flag Square, said the top master planner in its statement.
The buildings will create a new architectural reference for the Middle East. Its technical and multi-functional theatres will also make it one of the state of the art performing venues in the world, it added.
These will be accessed from spacious entrance courtyards and will sit like jewels within a larger public park.
According to SSH, the centre is a cultural milestone for Kuwait and a world class building for ceremony, celebration and artistic expression, which places the country on the world map for cultural projects. It will host various cultural events including music, theatre, film, workshops and spoken word.
"It was a challenge for us to complete the design and construction of a project of this size and complexity in 22 months," remarked SSH’s executive partner Sadoon Al Essa.
"This achievement was made possible by the Amiri Diwan’s intervention in expediting the project and overcoming obstacles," he stated.
SSH’s CEO Bob Hope said: "Successfully delivering this world class project makes me immensely proud of our team. We have designed to the highest international quality standards within such a challenging time frame.
"I hope that this achievement makes SSH the 'Consultant of Choice' and the Region's 'Go to Guys' for future world class cultural and heritage projects," he added.
The project launch ceremony kicked off with a performance by legendary tenor singer Andrea Boccelli. It also featured three of the most famous singers in the Middle East, Abdullah Al Rouwaished, Nabil Shoeil and Nawal, in addition to a number of Kuwaiti performances presenting Kuwait’s most famous artists.
SSH said for the project it worked closely with theatre engineers and acoustic specialists to create multiple performance spaces that are sophisticated in design and engineering.
The interior design of these spaces was created to complement the function of each space and capture the soul of each performance while engaging the audience.
"The Amiri Diwan’s enthusiasm and quick understanding of the ideas we proposed helped the concept come to life very quickly, creating an intuitive and rewarding design process for the whole team," remarked SSH’s architecture director, Simon Dennison.
SSH Kuwait managing director George Abi Hanna, said "SSH is proud to have contributed to the cultural development of the State of Kuwait through the creation of a landmark design which will become part of the Kuwaiti skyline for decades to come."
Ray Phillips, SSH’s design director said: "Culminating in a fabulous fire work display to celebrate the opening of the SJAACC only 22 months from conception was awe inspiring. To work with the Amiri Diwan on this prestigious world class cultural centre has been an honour and a privilege."
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