With a design concept developed around a regional architectural tradition, the Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait at Burj Alshaya brings a new level of luxury to Kuwait City’s skyline as one of the world’s most renowned hospitality brands, yet it has a distinctly Kuwaiti feel. The new hotel, which recently was named the 2018 MEED Hotel of the Year and one of Wallpaper* magazine’s striking structures around the globe for 2018, not only highlights the importance of authenticity in hospitality design, but also design’s power to shape and enhance the human experience.
Alshaya Group approached Gensler to design a world-class, urban hotel within a mixed-use development in Kuwait City. Most importantly, the hotel needed to offer a unique luxury experience for guests. With the brief set, the team asked, “How can we unite two world-renowned lifestyle brands through architecture to win the hearts of the Kuwaiti people?”
REDEFINING LUXURY THROUGH ARCHITECTURE
The definition of luxury is now steadily in the hands of the consumer. Whether it’s an urban business hotel, beach retreat, or mountain hideaway, the way to exceed guests’ expectations is through a vigorous pursuit for authenticity, beauty, and novelty. For the Four Seasons Kuwait, we took an experience-oriented design approach and applied it to the high-end hospitality sector to form a holistic fabric of place.
The five-star hotel includes two large ballrooms, an expansive pool-level terrace, three restaurants, and world-class spa and fitness facilities. The design is inspired by mashrabiya latticework, an open, crisscrossed framework used in traditional Arabic architecture since the Middle Ages. The result is a contextually sensitive scheme that successfully represents the Four Seasons brand, while embodying a contemporary twist on a regional architectural tradition.
The architectural expression takes the concept of traditional mashrabiya shading in local architecture and reinterprets it to create a new focal point of the city’s elite social scene. Its modulating aluminium facade is both visually appealing and enhances users’ privacy during the day. Its diamond motif provides shading from a multitude of solar angles, giving off an array of colors at varying times of the day and casting poetic shadows into the interior spaces. To achieve this, the scale of these three-dimensional, diamond-shaped modules varies to suit the requirements of the spaces where they are located. For example, in the guestrooms, the facade is more solid and contains small perforated openings, while in the podium, the canopy has larger openings to allow for air movement. The dichroic champagne bronze shading fins unite the exterior aesthetic with its interior at night through carefully designed facade lighting.
During the design stage, Gensler made a conscious decision not to include a hotel sign at the tower top, as the architecture design is so unique that the building becomes immediately recognizable. The hotel is now well-known in the local community and people have no difficulty in finding its location.
The compact size of the hotel exemplifies the luxury experience, helping to create a clearer sense of community and space. While the front-of-house components are grand in their own scale, they are all well-connected and intimately knitted with one another, and often visually connected with the exteriors for a totally immersive “inside-out, outside-in” experience. Since opening, the Four Seasons has redefined the hospitality standard in Kuwait and garnered acclaimed clientele and reviews.
Together with our in-house wayfinding and graphics team, local architect and engineering partner KEO International, and Toronto-based interior designers Yabu Pushelberg, Gensler has elaborated this hotel concept and created a holistic, seamless experience for locals and international guests. We created a landmark that delivers the functional requirements with an interpretation of local vernacular culture in a contemporary manner; serving guests with care and pride, while echoing Alshaya’s philosophy and the Four Seasons brand.
Trevor To is an award-winning architect in Gensler’s London office.