Ben Tosland

Architecture PhD


European architects at the confluence of tradition and modernity in the Persian Gulf, 1954-1982

The driving force behind variations in the architecture of the Gulf between 1954 and 1982 was a complex assemblage of geopolitics, changing cultures and advancements in architectural discourse. The timeframe selected for this thesis spans part of the post-Second World War period illustrating architectural changes in style in the West, using the context of the rapidly changing political and economic scene of the Gulf. This thesis promoted an understanding of Western architecture in the Gulf through an assessment of patterns in geographical and global architectural contexts. Where possible, this thesis used work from architects such as Mohamed Makiya, Kamran Diba, Rifat Chadirji and others to contextualise regional architectural development against the backdrop of five Western-led case studies which included: Max Lock’s Ubullah housing scheme (1956); Candilis-Josic-Woods’ housing for the National Iranian Oil Company in Abadan (1956); Alfred Roth’s work in Kuwait from 1964-1974; Doxiadis Associates’ Riyadh Plan (1968-1972); and Jørn Utzon’s Kuwait National Assembly (1972-1982). Overall, the case studies illustrated a conflict between the traditional forms and spatial syntaxes of Arab architecture and the contradictory theories and forms of Western-induced modernism, while giving attention to previously significant, yet under-researched, architects and schemes.