The Exhibition Hall
ROTTERDAM, February 2013 | OMA is designing a new department store concept in Kuwait City. The Exhibition Hall, in the popular 360° Mall, will showcase the creativity of the region alongside international fashion brands through a flexible curated retail space, featuring cultural programs, exhibitions and installations. The project is led by OMA partners Iyad Alsaka and Rem Koolhaas, in partnership with Tamdeen Real Estate Co.
The Exhibition Hall, as both department store and public event space, aims to re-establish the historic Kuwaiti connection between culture and commerce to form a contemporary public forum for the city. Comprising 9,400m2 over three floors, the Exhibition Hall will be suffused with natural light during the day, and present a glowing aspect to the street at night through a new translucent façade.
A series of galleries – reminiscent of the long passages of the Souk – will introduce a space which brands can develop as they wish. Multifunctional partition walls with circular cut outs will accommodate transversal access and offer exciting shifting views. Within this polymorphous environment customers will discover curated galleries devoted to cultural events.
The Exhibition Hall continues OMA longstanding interest in inventing new possibilities for retail spaces, which includes the Prada Epicentres in New York and Los Angeles, department store boutique designs for Viktor & Rolf and Coach, and an exhibition on the history of Galeries Lafayette in Paris.
The project is developed with Kuwait’s 360° Mall management, Majed Al-Sabah and Giacomo Santucci, and overseen by OMA project architect Alessandro De Santis. Construction is scheduled for the beginning of 2014 and will be completed within the same year.
In the last decades, the increasing presence of brands within department stores has eroded the store’s capacity to define its own identity. Department stores have become characterless landlords of a chaotic rabble of brands, cancelling each other out through their constant declarations of uniqueness. The Exhibition Hall, a new development within Kuwait City’s 360Mall, tries to create a new paradigm that will redefine the relation between department stores and brands by letting them participate in an explicit cultural concept.
OMA’s design for the Exhibition Hall alternates spaces assigned to brands with spaces curated by the department store hosting cultural exhibitions and events. The ambition is to promote emerging Arab talents in the field of fashion, art, and design. The department store will launch a curatorial strategy for a high turnover of commercial and cultural exhibitions and events, working as a social condenser as well as a place for bespoke fashion and design. The Exhibition Hall will be the first department store to be a public forum for the local and the Middle Eastern community, as well as a laboratory to experiment in cross contaminations between fashion brands and regional art and culture.
Developed within the existing premises of the 360Mall, located at the intersection of King Faisal Highway and the 6th Ring Road in Kuwait City, the Exhibition Hall will be developed on three floors with a total area of 9,400m2. A series of multifunctional partition walls divide each floor in linear galleries that will host exhibitions and events, multi-brand open spaces, and mono-brand boutiques.
The exhibition/event spaces will be curated, in terms of architectural concept and curatorial strategy, by OMA for The Exhibition Hall in collaboration with the hosted brands and artists. In the multi-brand open spaces, all the brands will collectively participate to homogeneous architectural concepts, designed according to the curatorial strategy of the Exhibition Hall. In the galleries allocating mono-brand boutiques, the occupants will be free to develop their own retail concepts as a tailored contribution to the overall concept of the department store. Like a traditional souk, the Exhibition Hall will generate a variety of public areas and intimate spaces; some galleries will have a more permanent character while others will be more temporary and could be periodically renovated according to the curatorial strategy.
The deep partition walls, integrating the existing vertical supporting structure, will become a multifunctional tool allocating product display, product storage, fitting rooms and MEP services. Visitors and costumers can meander through the galleries, experiencing a sequence of different conditions, thanks to a large number of openings in the partitions and also to the main walkway loops, directly connected to the existing 360Mall circulation. A new transparent façade will inundate interior spaces of the Exhibition Hall with natural light and at the same time will give brands valuable exterior exposure, quite unique in the Gulf region.
Project: Renovation of part of the 360 Mall to house the new concept department store
Status: Schematic Design
Clients: Tamdeen Group
Location: Kuwait City, Kuwait
Program: Luxury brands boutiques; multi-brands open spaces; temporary exhibitions and events; food and beverage
Project area: Approximately 9,400m2
Partners in charge: Iyad Alsaka and Rem Koolhaas
Project architect: Alessandro De Santis
Team (Concept Design): Marek Benada, Yong Cui, Jing Chen, Daniel Dobson, Emile Estourgie, Paul Feeney, Maria Finders, Bruno Gondo, Dongwoo Kim, Guangrong Liu, Constantinos Louca, Maya Rafih, Jad Semaan, Joe Wu
Team (Schematic Design): Yong Cui, Kaveh Dabiri, Daniel Dobson, Eric Lee, Maya Rafih, Jane Redmond, Jad Semaan
Photography: Frans Parthesius
Local Architect, MEP, Cost Management, Landscape: SSH International
Structural Engineering: SSH International / Al Farooqui