It all started with a question: Are you able to design an outside space that can be used 365 days a year?
For moderate climates such as the Spanish it seems quite simple, but in the case of an extreme weather like that of Kuwait it required a fresh approach and some new strategies. AGi architects asked the client:
Could you live in an outer space located at different levels?
Could you classify your outdoor activities in evening and daytime actions, summer and winter events?
These enquiries may be very difficult to answer for a Mediterranean family, but definitely not for those who are used to living in adverse weather conditions and who easily know what can – and cannot – be done during the summer outdoors.
The architects decided to stratify the external uses according to the period of the year and the hours of the day in which these activities could be developed, and accordingly they designed three gardens.
The first one is a ‘Wet Garden’ on the ground floor, which allows related spaces to be used during the hottest periods. The pool and some fountains are located in this garden, which is surrounded by the main social spaces of the house.
The ‘Summer’ Garden stands in the coldest layer, four metres below street level. Protected by the soil’s thermal mass and the projected shadows of the housing volume, a large sheet of water is placed to catalyse the evapotranspiration that – through convection – rises and refreshes the air towards upper spaces.
The third garden lies on the roof, an ideal place for winter days and hot summer nights. A perforated skin covers the Winter Garden, avoiding direct solar radiation and raising the privacy of its inhabitants.
These three gardens become unified as a single outer space and are connected – visually and physically- through exterior stairs; then the rest of the home can be developed.
Another important aspect to understand is the internal circulation of the dwelling, strongly linked to the concept of “family” assumed by the clients. From the main entrance, the separation of spaces and levels acts as a filter with guests; therefore, those who circulate through it are only the ones closest to the family (including service staff and workers of the house). The circulation inside the building – both vertical and horizontal – is conceived in a fluid way, creating multiple routes and possibilities for the inhabitants to reach the rooms in a more or less direct way. The routes can be interior or exterior, offering different views and experiences. In this sense, all ‘public’ areas are visually connected, leaving most of the private rooms more intimate and looking outwards. Opposite to the closed volume towards the outside – emphasized by the uniform stone cladding – is the total transparency of the spaces facing the interior courtyard – covered in white ceramic tiles – which reflect the light and help to illuminate the rooms in a natural way.
The same perforated skin that serves as a filter on the roof – a “deployé” metal mesh of anodized aluminium – has been used to maintain the privacy of the inhabitants from the neighbours’ eyes and to filter direct sunlight, serving as a shelter for the vegetation inside the aggressive Kuwaiti climate.