Beauty prevails amid desert sands
Kuwait is building a new university campus of massive proportions on the outskirts of its capital. Occupying 600 hectares, Sabah al-Salem Kuwait University City is a project of strategic importance for this Gulf country. Its modern architectural design and its intended legacy called for the timeless beauty and superior resistance of stainless.
Spanish company Imar recently manufactured the façade of the imposing College of Science and Faculty Club building. Measuring about 16,000 square meters, the façade is decorated with patterns formed by small perforations. “Stainless was the safest choice to give this project the quality it called for,” explains the Director of Imar, Luis Asúa.
Imar used 500 tonnes of austenitic Outokumpu Supra 316L/4404 stainless. The specific choice of grade came from the architects. “They wanted a façade that looked absolutely homogeneous and minimalist; it could only be done with stainless,” affirms Asúa.
Seamless beauty, iconic resistance
Unlike aluminium or other materials, stainless offers consistent shades and finishing across the surface without highlights or distortion. “It is the same as with cutlery,” says Asúa. “Silver is beautiful, but it does not have the uniformity of stainless.”
Beyond its aesthetic value, the façade has important structural functions. In Kuwait, temperatures range from 30 to 46 degrees Celsius in the summer, day and night. “The strong sunlight percolates through the perforations in the facade, which greatly reduces the energy consumption of the building,” explains Asúa. Sandstorms from the Arabian Desert carry sand at speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour, which causes erosion on buildings. Located near the sea, the building was also exposed to a saline air environment, which would have damaged inferior materials.
“The key for this project was to ensure the quality and durability of the material,” notes Asúa. “Outokumpu stainless was exceptional.”
With Imar embarking on one of Kuwait’s most emblematic projects, it could only trust a leader in the building and infrastructure sector. “We picked Outokumpu because we knew we would be in the hands of one of the best companies in the world,” says Asúa.
Outokumpu sent slit coils from Avesta, Sweden, to Castelleone, Italy, where they were cut, flattened and dry polished. Imar perforated the pieces in Bilbao, Spain, and sent them to Kuwait for assembly. “It looks great,” proclaims Asúa. “The project went impeccably well and we are very happy with the work of Outokumpu.”