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A tower sculpted by the wind

In the last few decades, cities in the small, predominantly desert-occupied State of Kuwait have undergone huge processes of expansion and modernization, responding to the continuous needs of contemporary society and taking on a profile characterized by soaring buildings: this is the case of Salmiya, located in the Hawalli Governorate and not far from the capital Madinat al-Kuwait, which now has a very dense urban layout that has altered the traditional conformation of the historic city.

Since the 1990s its gradual reconstruction, following the destruction caused by the Gulf War, has resulted in a radical transformation of the city and its waterfront, an area once used as a harbor for the fishing community, now site to numerous commercial and entertainment activities. Modern skyscrapers have replaced local housing, both in the innermost, mainly residential area and along the coast facing the Arabic Gulf on that stretch of road known as Gulf Road.

The case of the Wafra Wind Tower fits into this context, one of the many innovative projects of the international design firm AGi architects – founded by Joaquín Pérez-Goicoechea and Nasser B. Abulhasan – which for years has combined research for architectural form with research for functional, inclusive, and sustainable design. Commissioned by the Wafra Real Estate Company, the project has won numerous awards and honors, including recent selection as one of the 20 finalists for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2022, an award for projects in which architecture is attentive to community needs, environmental and social issues.

This veritable wind tower is the result of careful analysis and understanding of the context, but also of the country’s history, showing great attention to local culture and transporting the past into a «vertical neighborhood», as defined by the designers themselves. In fact, it takes the form of a modern reinterpretation of the traditional Middle Eastern courtyard house, the centerpiece of which was a central public space (patio), around which all private housing units were distributed. Wafra Wind Tower reconciles the intimacy of the family residence with the presence of communal spaces to serve the residents.

In this case, the patio is developed in height, providing natural ventilation to all the apartments, but also increasing the lighting with the presence of openings facing the inner courtyard: the air penetrates from the lower part of the building, is cooled by the presence of a swimming pool, crosses the vertical courtyard and escapes outside. The building thus appears as a great sculpture sculpted by the wind, and this feature is also enhanced by the granite exterior cladding that contrasts with the simple, white-plastered interior surfaces. Yet still to cope with the arid local climate, great attention has also been paid to the distribution of functions, allowing control of the indoor microclimate: on the south side, in fact, vertical connecting structures, stairs and elevators are arranged to act as a thermal barrier against solar radiation.

The case of the Wafra Wind Tower fits into this context, one of the many innovative projects of the international design firm AGi architects.

Minimal openings are provided on this front, while the north side features an articulated design of windows and balconies that blend with the geometric pattern defined by the stone cladding. From this point it is possible to sweep with the gaze over the rest of the city, but especially toward the gulf.

The tower, consisting of 13 floors, has a basement of two levels, one housing an above-ground parking lot, and another upper level where some public facilities, such as a swimming pool and gymnasium, are located. The subsequent floors, on the other hand, house 12 duplex apartments of different types, most of which have a private terrace and are designed with special attention to every detail, from the choice of materials to interior furnishings, with the aim of creating a comfortable, safe, and pleasant space. In addition to enjoying a communal terrace located on the 12th floor, the crowning element of the building is again designed to be at the service of all residents, with public spaces and roof gardens.

This new approach to urban living has also been experimented by AGi architects in other projects, in which once again vertical architectures take the leading role: that for Tandeem Square (2021) in Madinat al-Kuwait, near the Fahaheel highway, which involved the construction of three 40-story towers housing residential and commercial functions, and that for the Wafra Living residential complex (2021) in Jabriya, conceived as an L-shaped tower, where once again private and public life intertwine. It is, in conclusion, a way of interpreting the needs of society in a country that in recent years has seen a great increase in the demand for land, while preserving the privacy of a private home, but also introducing the functions that are most demanded by inhabitants, in a seamless integration of domestic and urban scales. Therefore, AGi architects’ project reveals how architecture can take on a real role as a social catalyst, fully respecting both local tradition and the increasingly topical issues related to environmental sustainability.

AGi architects

Wafra Wind Tower
Wafra Real Estate Company
Salmiya, Kuwait
Project Year
Architecture and Design
AGi architects
Project Team
Main Architects: J. Pérez-Goicoechea, N. B. Abulhasan
Project Leaders: S. Rendinelli, L. Alawadhi
Project Team: G. Thesing, J. C. Jimenez, C. Ruiz, A. Carrato, E. A. Rahimi, I. Abu Fayyad
Engineers: A. Macusi, J. Thomas
Size and total area
6.500 m2
Image credits
AGi architects


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