The Exhibition Hall . Kuwait

OMA . + archdaily

In the last decades, the exponential increase of presence and loud expression of brand's identity within department stores have gradually eroded, both spatially and metaphorically, the capacity of the department stores to define their own identity making them become mere characterless landlords in which cluttered brands find themselves blurred together, almost canceling each other out while shouting their uniqueness.

By alternating spaces assigned to brands with spaces curated by the department store hosting cultural exhibitions and events, The Exhibition Hall tries to create a new paradigm that will redefine the relation between department stores and hosted brands by letting them participate to an explicit cultural concept.
Promoting emerging Arab talents in the field of fashion, art, design; accommodating a high turnover of exhibitions and events; implementing a curatorial strategy for both commercial and cultural activities; hosting the contribution of world's leading luxury brands; 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 true public forum for the local and the Middle Eastern community, as well as a lab to experiment new 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 gross area of approximately 9,400m2. A series of multifunctional partition walls divide each floor in linear galleries that will be sequentially hosting exhibition/event spaces, multi-brand open spaces, and mono-brand's boutiques.

The exhibition/event spaces will be curated, in terms of architecture 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's boutiques, the single brands will be free to develop their own retail concepts as a tailored contribution to the overall concept of the department store. Like in a traditional souk The Exhibition Hall will ensure a variety of experiences. It will have a mix of public area and more private, intimate ones; 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 freely meander through the galleries, experiencing a clear and exiting sequence of different conditions, thanks to a large number of openings in the partitions and also to the main walkway loops which are directly connected with the existing 360Mall circulation and public areas. A completely new transparent façade will inundate interior spaces of The Exhibition Hall with natural light and at the same time will give brands a valuable exterior exposure, quite unique in the Gulf Region.

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

Local Architect, MEP, Cost Management, Landscape: SSH International
Structural Engineering: SSH International/Al Farooqui
Renderings: Robota
Photography: Frans Parthesius

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