AGI architects build a residential tower in Kuwait that uses the thermals to cool the building

AGI architects: Wafra Wind Tower.

The courtyard inside and the facades create a flow and heat dissipation upwards and across the building, respectively

In hot regions of the world, the thermals have always been used to cool buildings. The ancient tradition of wind towers, also called wind catchers, has now been revisited in a multi-family residential building in Kuwait City. The architects came from Studio AGI architects, based in Kuwait and Madrid. Their “Wafra Wind Tower“ reached the circle of 20 finalists in the 2022 Aga Khan Prize for Architecture.

The construction as such is unspectacular. For example, the elevators and stairs are placed on the side with the most sunlight, i.e., the south side. Conversely, the living side is where there is no direct sunlight, at least at times, i.e. on the north side.

In this case, this is also the side from which the residents have a direct view of the sea.

AGI architects: Wafra Wind Tower.

At the core of the building, which is a 13-story tower, is a courtyard, also familiar from the south. The drawing shows how the airflow passes through the shaft above and across the building, respectively.

AGI architects: Wafra Wind Tower.

The two lower floors serve as service zones. There is a common gymnasium and a swimming pool for the residents. Its water is also used for cooling.

Towards the top, there are 12 duplex apartments each over 2 floors and, at the very top, a penthouse with a terrace and garden.

AGI architects: Wafra Wind Tower.AGI architects: Wafra Wind Tower.

The fact that the architects have created a tower for living here is not only due to an effort to provide cooling without the noise and energy consumption of air conditioners. It is also an attempt to counteract the increasingly scarce building land in the emirate.

AGI architects: Wafra Wind Tower.AGI architects: Wafra Wind Tower.

The facade is strikingly clad in granite slabs, which also act as a heat shield with their thermal inertia.

In terms of design, the architects wanted to give the building in the Salmiaya district a “monolithic appearance,“ as they write, as if the wind had carved it out of a rock mass. The goal was also to clearly distinguish the outer skin from the walls in the courtyard.

AGI Architects in a self-promotion:
“The international design firm AGi architects was founded by two architects educated at Harvard University, Joaquín Pérez-Goicoechea and Nasser B. Abulhasan. At present, it has offices in Kuwait and Madrid, with a team of more than 70 professionals. With a noticeable international character and a multidisciplinary focus, AGi architects offers a professional service emphasizing quality, creativity and exclusive design… AGi architects has been recognized with more than 40 international awards such as: Lafarge Holcim Awards, WAF Awards, Middle East Architect Awards, MIPIM Architectural Review, Identity Design Awards and Cityscape Awards, amongst others.“

AGI Architects

Aga Khan Award for Architecture

Photos: AGI Architects

AGI architects: Wafra Wind Tower.AGI architects: Wafra Wind Tower.

(13.01.2023, USA: 02.13.2023