The 74,322 sm College of Life Sciences (COLS) at Kuwait University is an exceptionally site-responsive building notable for its dramatic, angular sloped façade and its cladding of striking, desert-colored, textured material.
The building’s form, sculpted in response to extensive environmental analysis, adapts the ancient science and aesthetics of traditional mashrabiya screens, which provide for natural ventilation, shading and privacy to the occupants. The array of diamond-shaped, perforated metal panels arranged on a diagonal grid structural system that covers the façade filters natural daylight and shades the interior from the harsh sun. The panels are positioned differently for each building façade orientation, directing more diffused northern light inside while blocking the intense southern light. The color intensity of the golden structure changes with the sun’s movement throughout the day, much like the surrounding desert.
Metal is easily manipulated with punctures and patterns; it was the ideal material choice for this unique façade. Because metal is also light weight, skewing the exterior walls out was more feasible than it would have been with other, heavier materials. By simply tilting the exterior walls out, the building begins to self-shade when the sun is at its highest angle, thus reducing heat loads on the mechanical equipment. Because each floor plate is a little larger than the one below, windows are shaded, making spaces more comfortable for occupants and, therefore, making more of the interior floor area function as usable space.