The Social Production of Space: Kuwait’s Spatial History, a PhD Dissertation by Muhannad Al-Baqshi, 2010

Albaqshi, Muhannad A. “The Social Production of Space: Kuwait’s Spatial History.” Order No. 3455031, Illinois Institute of Technology, 2010. http://search.proquest.com/docview/867271557?accountid=15172.

Abstract (Retrieved from ProQuest):

The history of Kuwait’s social production of space is the history of Kuwait’s modernization. This process of modernization, which began in the latter part of the eighteenth century, peaked in the middle of the twentieth century with the reconstruction of Kuwait City and the introduction of modern architecture to the Kuwaiti reality. Kuwait’s spatiality moved from a vague political recognition built along the tectonics of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century imperial ambitions to one defined by a particular geological wealth (oil), and then to one centered on the country’s role as a sovereign state producing its own spatial structure.

In the nineteenth century, territory had been a symbol of power and control, but when oil was discovered in abundance territory became an economic necessity. After the Second World War, Kuwait’s oil production began, and along with it came prosperity. Kuwait’s newfound wealth shifted the focus from international diplomacy and issues of territorial control to internal politics and nation building.

Urban planning and administrative hierarchy developed in parallel in Kuwait, working in tandem as both grew into systems. Kuwait’s first master plan, created in 1952, provided a spatial arrangement of neighborhood units that distributed a network of unit centers from which the state was able to implement its development programs and society was able to organize domestic economy and cooperatives.

After the first wave of modernization came a governmental reform process, that reflected Kuwait new status as an independent nation. In 1962, the Kuwait government established a centralized planning body, the Planning Board, to supervise Kuwait’s urban and architectural development. This technocratic body was the main channel through which modernist architecture was conceived. The technocrats, including modernist architects and government representatives, produced spatial programs and developed rational architectural prototypes to fulfill Kuwait’s modern socialist aspirations.

This study will trace chronologically Kuwait’s social production of space. Kuwait moved from a primitive sheikdom to a modern state–a process highlighted by the creation of the Anglo-Kuwaiti protectorate in 1899, the discovery of oil, Kuwait’s first master plan, the 1960s’ nationalism and reform, and Kuwait’s conception of modern architecture.

Some content from the work:

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