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Happiness in the city: Redesigning Urban Living with Reinier de Graaf, OMA

The Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS), the UK Department of International Trade (DIT), the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the College of Architecture at Kuwait University are delighted to bring this exclusive event to Kuwait City.

The one-day Symposium will bring together leaders in culture, creativity and technology from across the Gulf and UK to explore how the built environment influences happiness and wellbeing. Like many cities in the Middle East, prosperity during the late twentieth century has led to rapid development in Kuwait that fundamentally changed the experience and quality of life of citizens, not necessarily for the better.

Using Kuwait City as a reference, our expert speakers will examine how design and developments in technology can be harnessed to create successful, smart and resilient cities. Through a series of round table discussions, workshops and seminars the event will consider the questions:

  • What makes a happy city?
  • How do we define and plan for a sustainable happy environment?
  • What resources and collateral are required to ensure wellbeing and happiness?

We are thrilled to announce that Reinier de Graaf, Partner at OMA in Rotterdam will be the keynote speaker for the day.

Reinier leads OMA’s projects in the Middle East and co-founded AMO, the think tank of OMA, and has overseen AMO’s increasing involvement in sustainability and energy planning. AMO delivered the ‘Gulf Continued’ at the Istanbul Biennial in 2010 and Reinier led on the recently completed Concrete in Dubai, shortlisted for the Aga Khan awards and also produced the Kuwait Al Rai masterplan design in 2006.

There will also be chance to hear from 12 other expert speakers in the shorter workshop sessions that will include Wiel Arets Architects, Buro Happold Engineering, Wafra, Rafael Portillo, Fielden Clegg Bradley Architects, Weston Williamson Architects, The Palladium Group and Arup as well as specialists from Kuwait University.

Delegates will also have the chance to hear from Dr Adnan Shihab-Eldin Director General of KFAS and HE Michael Davenport FCO, Alan Vallance, CEO of the RIBA and Dr Asseel Al-Ragam, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, Research and Graduate Studies at the College of Architecture, Kuwait University.

The relationship between happiness and the social and economic success of cities will also be discussed with the aim of providing architects, engineers, developers and city planners with the knowledge and skills to create healthy, happy and sustainable cities for future generations.

Don’t miss out on this unique event, book now for what promises to be a fascinating day.

Symposium Agenda

8.30am Registration & coffee

9.00am Welcome

Dr Adnan Shihab-Eldin DG KFAS

HE Michael Davenport FCO 

9.10am Introduction / Kuwait context

Alan Vallance CEO RIBA

Dr Asseel Al-Ragam, Vice Dean Kuwait University College of Architecture

9.30am Lead panel – Who makes our cities happy and how

Peter Murray (NLA), Reinier de Graaf (OMA), Dr Mohammad Al Jassar (KU) & Sharifa Al Shalfan (Architect) Moderator: Alan Vallance

10.00am Expert workshops briefing

• Rafael Portillo (Artist and Architect)

• Wiel Arets (Wiel Arets Architects)

• Chris Williamson (RIBA VP International) 

10.10am Coffee break

10.20am – 11.20am Morning Workshop sessions:

10.20am Culture 
Room 1: Rafael Portillo (Artist and Architect) 
Room 2: Ian Taylor (Fielden Clegg Bradley)

10.40am Creativity
Room 1: Wiel Arets (Wiel Arets Architects) 
Room 2: Farah Naz (Buro Happold)

11.00am Technology 
Room 1: Chris Williamson (RIBA VP International) 
Room 2: Sinéad Magill (Palladium) 

11.20am Panel discussion x Audience Q&A


1.00 pm – 2.30pm Afternoon Workshop sessions

1.00pm Technology
Room 1: Richard Waterhouse (NBS)
Room 2: Mercedes Gargallo (ARUP)

1.20pm Culture
Room 1: Jo Bacon (Allies and Morrison) 
Room 2: Noor Al Boushehri (Architect)

1.40pm Creativity
Room 1: Hessa Al Bader (WAFRA) 
Room 2: David Weatherhead (HOK)

2.30pm Panel discussion x Audience Q&A

2.50pm Coffee break

3.00pm Plenary Outcomes from the day

Moderator: Peter Murray

Reinier de Graaf, Rafael Portillo, Wiel Arets, Chris Williamson

3.30pm Closing Keynote

Reiner de Graaf

Q&A moderated by Alan Vallance 

4.20pm Next Steps

Dr Adnan Shihab-Eldin DG KFAS

4.30pm CLOSE


Marwan Ghayad

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