A house in Yarmouk
Kuwait City, Kuwait
The Yarmouk private villa is home to two brothers and their families in Kuwait. The volume is divided in the center of the plot into two identical units housing the independent quarters of each of the two families. A series of light wells and balconies throughout the house, along with a discreet garden space on the ground floor, focuses on the project’s main narrative of diffused natural lighting.
The basement of the house and its roof terrace cap the building with elements of unity and interaction, where the siblings and their families are able to get together and socialize. The basement includes a large banquet hall with light wells on either side to bring in ample natural light. The room, covered completely in travertine, sets a more classic and elegant atmosphere for larger gatherings. The basement also includes parking facilities for 10 cars and a staff quarters, also naturally lit.
The independent units follow an identical plan although the form is articulated to disrupt symmetry. The ground floor houses the social areas for each family and is flanked by a very private garden that lights up the interiors through large sliding windows. Vertical circulation is organized along the middle of the house and the living spaces organized along the building periphery to maximize natural light. The first floor houses the bedrooms in a similar way along the outer edge, including a sky-lit communal area and a kitchenette in the center.
The materiality of the interiors is driven by the hierarchy of the space, ranging from a dramatic music room finished in an aptly titled scandalous marble, to the almost Scandinavian simplicity of the upper levels that houses the bedrooms, pantry and the informal reading room. Subtle warm tones, achieved by a combination of silver travertine cladding with white oil finished ash parquet, set the mood for the ground floor living and dining areas.
The client’s brief called for a very dense program relative to the allowed footprint and also for the two units to be identical and side-by-side. This posed multiple challenges to the architects in terms of finding a balance between enclosed and open spaces, as well as bringing sufficient natural lighting to all areas of the house.
Studio Toggle chose to address these challenges in an incremental manner by creating light wells, balconies and decks affording varied degrees of transparency and porosity throughout the building. This approach resulted in a choreographed sequence of naturally lit spaces with a well-defined hierarchy dictating its degree of privacy
The open-plan ground floor brought natural light into the living and dining area through its wide sliding glass panels leading to the outdoor garden space towards the edge of the plot. While maximizing the natural light, overhangs were employed strategically to decrease direct sunlight and solar heat gain. The garden, with its high walls and louvers fosters greenery and light for the social spaces, including the banquet room in the basement, while affording total privacy from neighboring buildings.
A similar technique is applied on the first floor, placing all bedrooms on the parameter to ensure windows in each room for their own natural lighting. A large skylight lights up the resulting interstitial area turning it into a brightly lit communal reading spot. The exterior of the house is finished in an austere palette of white cement render contrasted against the rough grey finish of the window frames and louvers. The louvers afford necessary privacy to the stepped entrance foyer and the roof garden and soften the impact of the crisp white massing.
The design and its requirements birthed a duality between the necessity of natural light and Kuwait’s scorching hot climate. Studio Toggle approached this duality with a multi pronged strategy in which light pockets are distributed along the buildings mass, increasing it porosity while avoiding direct sun. These light pockets, by virtue of their strategic locations, helped in lighting up the interiors while avoiding the harsh direct sunlight.
A heat reflecting and self-cleaning exterior paint system in white finish was used to reduce the heat gain as well as to repel dust, which is a recurring problem in the region. Louvers and overhangs were generously incorporated to avoid and reduce direct sun and glare.
Sensors and smart irrigation systems were incorporated to reduce electricity and water usage and demonstrates a measured saving of almost 20 percent electricity and 40 percent water used for irrigation. Low VOC paint and coating systems were used for better indoor air quality, as the client was very specific in this regard. The project also employs extensive use of eco-friendly cork for acoustic insulation and as underlays below the parquet flooring.
Project name: A house in Yarmouk
Architect: Studio Toggle
Completion year: 2017
Built Area: 2500 m2
Project Location: Al Yarmouk, Kuwait City
Photographer: Gijo Paul George
Lead Architects: Hend Almatrouk, Gijo Paul George.
Team: Abdul Rashed, Yehia Galal, Dionne Pereira, Saleh Jamsheer
List of Manufacturers / Suppliers:
Windows: Profilatti, Italy (EKU 53)
Door Hardware: JNF, PortugalSanitary
fixtures: Sanitana, Portugal
Parquet: Wicanders, Portugal (Manor house ash)
HVAC: Carrier, Kuwait
Wardrobes / Cabinetry: Woodex Kuwait
Elevators: Orona, Kuwait
About the Architect
Studio Toggle was established in 2012 by Architects Hend Almatrouk and Gijo Paul George, both masters graduates from die Angewandte, Vienna, Austria. The practice focuses on logical design and problem-solving techniques with a specific emphasis on Architecture and Urban Design. We believe in a balance between the opposites, that form follows function, the simplicity is complex, and that even chaos can be organized. Our expertise ranges from public-sector, commercial, residential and hospitality architecture to interior design. Based in Kuwait City, Studio Toggle has designed, supervised and handed over more than 6 projects including private villas, apartments, pavilions and retail interiors, all in the short 5 years of being operational.
The work done by the Studio Toggle has been acclaimed in the region as evidenced by the various awards won by the practice including the Middle East Architect Residential Project of the Year 2016 for its project F.LOT. Studio Toggle’s projects have been published in local and international magazines in both print and online media. The practice continues to push the boundaries of design sensibilities in the region and beyond. To that effect, Studio Toggle opened its branch in the city of Porto, Portugal in 2015 and continues its explorations in the field of sustainability, digital design, and fabrication.