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‘Assembly Building A Clear Model Of Architectural Splendor’
July 10, 2013, 9:31 am
 In downtown Kuwait City and overlooking the blue shores of the Arabian Gulf is the National Assembly building, which built in 1985, can still be regarded today a clear model of architectural splendor. Designed by renowned Danish architect Jorn Utzon 10 years before its completion, the architect who brought us the Sydney Opera House made the Kuwaiti parliament building to resemble an old hospitable Arabian kiosk. Overlooking the country’s trendy Arabian Gulf Street, the crystal white building sways upwards from back to front, as the ceiling gives way to the appearance of fabric hitched on to 12 pillars that hold up the building at the front. The main entrance is located at the front of the building — regarded the southern exit — just behind the pillars and under the highest point of the dominating curve.
“We had the idea of constructing the building around a central hall, a bazaar street, in such a way that all departments met in side roads off the bazaar road, just as we know from the bazaars in the Middle East and North Africa,” the architect, who passed away in 2008, once said of his creation.
Utzon’s original plans went through several amendments, including the annulment of a conferences hall and the transfer of the entrance of an accompanying mosque from outside to inside the building, but despite these minor alterations the building kept its identity.
Some regard the building a link between the sea, where pre-oil era city-dwelling Kuwaitis headed to extract and exchange riches, and the desert, where their Bedouin peers raised essential cattle and aided the transportation of necessary drinking water.
With a total cost of around KD 26 million ($91 million), the hub of Kuwaiti democracy is situated over a 120,000 sq/m premises.
Despite being completed in 1985 lawmakers, voted in on the sixth legislative term of the same year, held their session in the new building a year later.
The building was seriously damaged during the Iraqi invasion of February 1991, when retreating Iraqi troops set it on fire, but it has been restored since. Some 45,000 books and publications were also found missing from its library.
Restoration of the building began impressively five months later, the cost of which amounted to KD 19.5 million ($68.5 million), with the work completed in October of the following year — immediately ushering in elections.
It includes a basement, a ground and first floor — both of which have entrances to the meeting room, later dubbed Abdallah Al-Salim Al-Sabah Hall after the late amir.
The ground floor hosts the offices of HH the Amir, HH the Crown Prince and parliament secretariat employees, a ceremony chamber, a cafeteria, a library, a mosque, a resting room and several separate meeting rooms.
The building has four entrances, two in each of the building’s northern and southern wings, as the southern wing is the entrance of senior officials, lawmakers and esteemed guests.
Abdallah Al-Salim Hall has two floors, the first of which hosts lawmakers and cabinet members in addition to the press, while the second hosts spectators. Some 120 seats have been assigned for delegates, with 222 for the press, as spectators are given 736 seats.
Due to the ever-increasing number of employees expansion plans were adopted in 2008 for a supplementary building — over a 70,000 sq/m area, costing KD 30 million (KD 105 million) — with bridges linking it to the main structure.
The new building, which is 78pct completed but has been stalled due to contractual differences — includes a basement and five floors. It has been equipped with 100 offices, spread across the numerous building’s floors, a parking lot in the basement, a library, an IT centre and a theatre.
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