Kuwait and Spain-based AGi Architects has started a blog series called City Models: Itineraries in the globalised city, comparing two different cities in the world.
For its first edition, the architects chose the two cities they are most familiar with: Kuwait City and Madrid.
Here you can read the full post by the architects:
It is inevitable not to compare two cards tacked on a fridge door. Photographs that show moments in the life of a city, analogous sites, monuments or buildings that in the twinkle of an eye reveal similarities and differences.
In order to understand the current global city, we hope to initiate a series of tours – where we begin to look as tourists in quick, fleeting glimpses. This is the starting point for this exercise; we begin with Kuwait City and Madrid, two cities that are important to us.
Itinerary 1: Madrid
Like many Chinese tourists, we will begin at Espana Square at the large fountain. A large fountain that pays tribute to Cervantes will be the starting point. Behind us on the esplanade of the square, temporary stalls that the Council rents periodically, are spread.
We cross to Gran Via, the most touristic street of the city with altered, empty buildings such as Spain – purchased by Wanda Group – with historic buildings that hold cinemas and theaters. Turning on to Mostenses Square, we see a market, originally built in 1925 that serves restaurants and locals. Though this simple market organization is somewhat outdated: it is the face of the different cultures and nationalities that live together in the neighborhoods of Madrid.
Leaving the market, we wander about the narrow sidewalks where small businesses follow one another until the secondary school Cardinal Cisneros, where another narrow street leads to San Bernardo.
San Bernardo is a main thoroughfare usually congested by traffic. The street is riddled with public transport, buses and metro. Approaching the heart of Malasana, one can see all the active restoration and rehabilitation works. Reaching the square, one can see the pedestrian’s path is littered with vehicles. Throughout the journey, vegetation is an afterthought with isolated trees being placed systematically.
During the day the place looks abandoned, night clubs are closed and everything has a careless appearance. A fenced monument occupies the center reads: “look but do not touch.” Sand boxes alternate with granite flooring, where the young people gather at night.
Itinerary 2: Kuwait city
In Kuwait City, the journey begins at the plaza in front of the Joint Banking Complex.The plaza has a central pond surrounded by strictly pruned vegetation cut into symmetrically distributed planters. A short walk along Ahmed Al Jaber Street then takes us to a busy pedestrian crossing. Leaving a McDonald’s fast food restaurant behind us, we have to fight our way between cars that seem ignorant of the concept of a pedestrian’s right of way.
But no matter, because as soon as you cross the street – Mubarakiya Souk begins. This shaded and pedestrianized market is cluttered with eclectic stores of every kind. The complete messiness and disorder of the market gives it a whimsical and unique atmosphere unlike anywhere else in Kuwait. At the end of the Mubarakiya Souk, we leave the shade and emerge back under the sunlight. A short walk then leads us to a large open plaza that is mostly empty, except for the few outdoor cafe’s and spontaneously appearing street vendors. After a couple of turns, we enter again into another shaded market, much similar to the Mubarakiya Souk.
At the market’s exit, we first walk through a small restaurant’s outdoor seating area, and then a sidewalk with a few featureless building on the left and sea of parking on the right. The Municipality Park greets us at the end of the parking, almost as a reward for our perseverance. This park is quite bizarre. It has a lot of greenery patches and many water features but most of them are fenced off, communicating a clear ‘don’t touch’ policy. And so at the center of the Municipality Park, the Kuwait part of the walk comes to an end.
See AGi’s blog here.