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Retooling Pearl Marzouq

April-16-2012


TO RESTORE A BUILDING IS NOT TO REPAIR IT, NOR TO DO MAINTENANCE OR TO REBUILD, IT IS TO REESTABLISH IT IN AN ULTIMATE STATE THAT NEVER EXISTED BEFORE


Pearl Marzouq, a modern architectural beacon, docked in the early seventies on the shores of the Arabian Gulf.  Combining the drive of Mr. Khaled Al-Marzouq to develop dense mixed-use projects, fitting awkwardly with a landscape ready to sprawl, with the vision of the young architect Sabah Abi Hanna, this modern housing complex was erected on an 11,140 sqm plot in Ras Al-Salmiya known as “Lo’loat (Pearl) Al-Marzouq” Complex. The building, located on the tip of a peninsula, conceals itself from the main Gulf Road running all along the coastline. Its seawater-swimming pool was directly located on the Arabian Gulf, until the eighties, when the Scientific Center’s green promenade strip stepped in between the turquoise sea and the sandstone walls.
The building has four blocks, internalizing a courtyard. A wide raised corridor wraps around with different communal programs feeding into it. The raised “artificial ground” becomes a social space with built-in marble benches and flower beds, insulating the raised plinth from the streets around and the commercial shops in the buildings’ pilotis.
The southern block, along the main road, is only 2-storeys high; letting the generous sunlight into the courtyard. The other three residential blocks are each constituted of nine floors atop the ground floor, with five elevator stops on split-level corridors; four duplexes are topped by single-floor penthouses. The side blocks span around 100 m between the road and the sea, with 10 apartments laid side-by-side on every floor. The back block, fronting the sea along 64 m, lines eight apartments on each floor to enjoy the most beautiful Sugimotos framed by deep punched fenestrations.
Kuwait Real Estate Company commissioned PAD10 to renovate the Pearl Marzouq complex exteriors, including the façades and the landscape, and interiors, including the penthouses, the duplex apartments, and the basement parking. Maintaining the building’s iconicity, PAD10 rethought the program, specifically on the ground floor, connecting the building to its unique setting and externalizing its courtyard into a public garden, reviving an urban character of pre-oil projects in their ability to create a place around them, and the post-oil character of the deep-punched or double-skin façades.