Between East and West: A Gulf looks towards the contested hydrography of the Arabian/Persian Gulf and proposes a new masterplan for the region. In an area of physical, religious, and political division, the publication tells the story of the Gulf’s islands and the possibilities they hold for a joint territorial project. The book was an accompaniment to the third Kuwaiti participation at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2016 with a pavilion that shares the same title.
Hundreds of islands dot the waters between the Arabian and Persian shores. An afterthought in the political maneuverings of their respective coasts, these islands tell an alternative narrative to the one which drives conceptions of the region. They represent a possibility greater than spaces of political contestation and hesitant demarcation. These islands are the sites of identity in formation, places of experimentation and architectural invention. Their historical roles were as varied as places of leisure, spirituality, planning, war, exile, and health. The island is an entity both isolated but also crucially connected through the waters of the Gulf, and thus not an exception to the national but the rule which defines it.
Commissioned by the National Council for Culture, Art and Letters (NCCAL), the Kuwait Pavilion at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2016 looks beyond the shores of the country and argues in favor of a masterplan for a united Gulf. By presenting the untold history of the region and proposing an alternate future, the pavilion casts the hydrography as a singular entity of neither East nor West, but as an untapped archipelago which defined the region and offers the greatest possibility for its reconciliation.