Construction is in its final stages on Al Andalus mixed-use development, Kuwait’s latest, trendiest community space and centre, with the overall progress of works currently standing at approximately 80 per cent.
“Al Andalus is a lifestyle destination – for individuals, families, and businesses alike – promising endless retail, leisure and recreation experiences and interactions,” Abdulwahab Al-Oraifan, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Ajial Real Estate & Entertainment Company, the developer, tells Gulf Construction.
“Set to open its doors in early 2022, the project is looking to redefine – even revolutionise – Kuwait’s shopping mall experience. It seeks to create a different kind of space – a community hub and crossroads where people can shop, dine, relax, work, visit the spa or seek medical care.”
With a total built-up area of 59,000 sq m covering a plot area of just over 10,350 sq m, the project includes 18 floors in total, including the two levels of the mall itself; a dedicated floor for a gym and spa; six floors for clinics; nine floors for offices featuring modern units of varying sizes; a basement housing an 11-screen cinema; as well as a stand-alone parking structure, connected via a bridge, which will accommodate up to 1,200 vehicles. For a seamless flow of footfall, each side of the project is serviced by a separate section of elevators.
“Al Andalus sits on a site previously occupied by one of Kuwait’s first cinema theatres, called Al-Andalus Cinema, a well-known landmark and cultural pillar. This is why the project is paying homage by maintaining that name,” Al-Oraifan points out.
The façade of the tower is inspired from the character of the old building. But the overall inspiration for the project comes from the urban tissue: the idea was to achieve a human-scale “urban sector” concept, with a strong relationship between interior and exterior spaces with many different viewing perspectives – with the architectural language and proportions respecting the pedestrian scale, he continues.
“The destination will offer a unique experience, a shopping street so to speak, as an alternative option to the typical shopping malls you see in Kuwait. It seeks to cater to the community with a new entertainment destination set within an urban context and a vibrant space offering a multitude of outdoor activities and recreation options, above and beyond the food and beverage offerings.
“What makes the general ambience of the project unique is how the spaces interact and fuse together. Different components and facilities seamlessly merge together to create a dynamic, fluid space that encourages movement and interaction. These components include: outdoor spaces, seating areas, the square and plaza areas, walkways, an abundance of greenery, balconies, shades and urban fixtures,” Al-Oraifan explains.
The aim was to achieve a timeless architectural look, and here the materials chosen and used play a key role. Hence, for this project, all facades have been cladded with a unique combination of durable and visually distinct materials that help achieve the standout signature aesthetic the project is looking for: an open street feel.
The tower façades are dressed with Classical Roman Travertine stone, with a rough finish which ages nicely, he adds.
The podium has a variety of materials, such as the copper metal mesh, which keeps changing colour with time. Next to it, a block has been cladded with European Antique Clay Brick, a traditional warm material. Other components are cladded with Jura limestone, proven to be highly durable in Kuwait’s harsh weather, in various different finishes and patterns, he states.
For the outdoor flooring, Italian Porphyry cobblestone with a rough finish has been selected, to give the plaza and the outdoor space a classically-inspired pedestrian feel – with two directional strips of Travertine marble which enhance the scale of the space.
Since the project is core and shell for the tenant spaces, only public areas were treated with the same standards, with flooring covered with Jura grey stone vein cut with honed finish to also reflect the age of the project. In parallel, all core walls are dressed with the Mocca Cream Portuguese stone honed finish – all in large-size format to reflect the grandness of the spaces.
“All concrete works have been completed, followed by the external skin and the stone cladding – and with glazing having reached considerable progress, you can see plainly the combination of all the different elements. The electro-mechanical works are also being handled in parallel,” Al-Oraifan says.
Currently, the landscape area is being prepared to receive all layers of infrastructure and finishing with the plantation. The works are expected to be completed by the beginning of 2022, including the testing and commissioning of all systems.
“Of course, the snagging shall continue throughout the soft opening and tenant fit-out period to ensure optimal conditions and results,” he concludes.