Islamic ceramic ornamentation and process: proposals for a new aesthetic vocabulary in contemporary architectural embellishment within kuwait

Alkandari, Fahad A H H (2011) Islamic ceramic ornamentation and process: proposals for a new aesthetic vocabulary in contemporary architectural embellishment within kuwait. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Islamic architecture is arguably one of the greatest manifestations of Islamic visual culture. One of the defining aspects of the unique, aesthetic richness of traditional Islamic architecture has been the application of ceramic ornamentation or embellishment. There is a growing concern, however, that this legacy is being eroded. The diminishing identity of Islamic visual culture is particularly evident through current architectural developments occurring in the Arab states. The building revolution in the Gulf countries has dramatically increased momentum since the onset of the ‗oil economy‘, echoing the phenomena of globalization.
This research project explores these concerns, discussing the erosion of Islamic ‗identity‘ within contemporary architecture in the Gulf States and in particularly Kuwait, as well as the ensuing decline in the use of ceramics as a defining embellishment material. The research compares the aesthetics of traditional and contemporary Islamic architectural design, whilst also examining the reasons behind this erosion in traditional design style. The diminishing identity of Islamic visual culture is investigated by combining studies in the fields of art, aesthetics, design, architecture, and the social sciences, in order to understand the nature of the research problem.
A series of case-studies demonstrates how ceramics may be used to re-introduce a sense of Islamic identity within contemporary architecture. This offers design proposals, new materials and technical processes that acknowledge the rich traditions of Islamic Ceramics while also being appropriate for application within the context of contemporary Islamic architecture detailing; blending contemporary aesthetics and technical thinking with traditional Islamic design.
The aim of the case-studies is to offer proposals for a new aesthetic vocabulary of architectural embellishment that is both appropriate to and innovative within, the context of contemporary Islamic architecture. This new aesthetic vocabulary
specifically blends contemporary design principals, new materials and technical processes, whilst acknowledging the rich traditions of Islamic ceramics.
The PhD project, applies two types of research methodology: theoretical research and practice-based research. The former focused on social sciences and applied quantitative and qualitative research approaches, including surveys and interviews undertaken within Kuwait. The findings obtained from these surveys verified the emergence of a new cultural style of contemporary architecture and shaped the practice-based element of the project; proposals for ceramic embellishment that are contemporary, while still reflecting many recognizable aspects of traditional Islamic design. The new architectural style can be attributed to factors such as globalization, the adoption of international building styles, and a seeming unwillingness to incorporate traditional styles into new building design, all of which contribute to the currently weak identity of Arabic / Islamic ceramics within Kuwait. Despite of this, the survey revealed that Kuwaiti society maintains a strong relationship and affiliation with Islamic culture, although many seemed unaware of their own rich culture and its past legacy.
The practice-based research involved two distinct phases. The first phase involved the development of a large number (172) of new glazes. The glazes were intended to reflect the palette of colours used over generations of Islamic Ceramic culture, while still being appropriate for integration within the contemporary Islamic architectural environment. The second phase of practice involved a series of case studies, embracing a wide range of contemporary architectural ceramic design processes (including 2 and 3 Dimensional geometrical patterns and interpretations of contemporary calligraphic design). The case studies utilised a number of modern technologies, such as 3D Solid modelling, CNC Rapid Prototyping and Laser-cutting, to prove that modern design and manufacturing technologies can be integrated within traditional ceramic processes. The aim being to both provide ceramic products that architects and designers can use to enhance the modern
architectural environment of Kuwait and re-establish the creative status of ceramics.

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