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Between East & West: A Gulf

The third Kuwaiti participation at the 15th Venice International Architecture Biennale, the pavilion titled Between East and West: A Gulf looks past Kuwait’s borders to the contested hydrography of the Arabian/Persian Gulf and proposes a new master-plan for the region. In an area of physical, religious, and political division, the Kuwaiti pavilion tells the story of the Gulf’s islands and the possibilities they hold for a joint territorial project. The pavilion, located in the Arsenale, features a catalog of over 300 islands in the Gulf elaborating on their histories and character. In addition to this compilation, the pavilion features design proposals for a selection of these islands—made from young and established architectural practices in the region—aimed at how a masterplan could be implemented across these contested waters.

The third in a series of architecture pavilions which explores the national in Kuwait, this chapter considers the country’s role in the region as part of a larger conversation towards peace and cooperation. An unprecedented initiative for a national participation from the Gulf, the subject of this year’s exhibition was chosen by the NCCAL for its aim to initiate a conversation amongst the countries that border this body of water, and to imagine a collective project to unify the region.

The exhibition has been commissioned by Zahra Ali Baba of the NCCAL (National Council for Culture Arts and Letters – Kuwait). The curators are Hamed Bukhamseen from Kuwait and Ali Karimi from Bahrain. Accompanying the pavilion is a research publication both in English and in Arabic which is available within the exhibition space. For more detailed information about the participants, the pavilion, or to view the catalog please visit:

Photos © Giulio Boem

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Between East and West: A Gulf - The Kuwait Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale of Architecture from PLANE—SITE.


Zahra Ali Baba
— National Council for Culture Arts and Letters - Kuwait (NCCAL)


Hamed Bukhamseen, Ali Karimi

Art Director / Graphic Designer

Fahad Alhunaif

Publication Coordinator / Editor

Muneerah Alrabe

Project Designers & Research Architects

Saphiya Abu Al-Maati, Shahab Albahar, Mai Albusairi, Nada Alqallaf, Rawan Alsaffar, Yousef Awaad Hussein

Financial Team

Mohammed Al Ajmi, Mohammed Al Jameel

Administrative Team

Abdullah Albeeshi (Head of team), Noora Al Musallam, Jaber Al Qallaf, Jassim Al Shamali

Exhibited Design Contributions

AGi Architects, Behemoth Press with Matteo Mannini Architects, Design Earth, ESAS Architects, Fortuné Penniman with Studio Bound, PAD10, X- Architects

Written Contributions

Fahad Bishara, Ahmed Makia, Fatma Sahlawi & Rashid bin Shabib, Rand Abduljabbar & Maitha Mezroui, Nesrin Tabatabai & Babak Afrassiabi, Noor Boushehri, Abdulatif Al-Mishari

The exhibition concluded with a joint declaration titled "Land" made by Pierre Bélanger of the Canadian Pavilion , Malkit Shoshan of the Dutch Pavilion, and James Taylor-Foster of the Nordic Pavilion.


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Archdaily Interview
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Dubaization Review
Archdaily Feature / Archdaily Preview
Design MENA Feature / Design MENA Preview
Harvard GSD Write-up
Arab Gulf States Institute - Washington DC: What if Arabistan?