noura al sayeh + leopold banchini: bab al bahrain pavilion
noura al sayeh + leopold banchini: bab al bahrain pavilion noura al sayeh + leopold banchini: bab al bahrain pavilion
mar 27, 2012

noura al sayeh + leopold banchini: bab al bahrain pavilion

noura al sayeh + leopold banchini of bahraini practice a-bureau have completed ‘bab al bahrain pavilion’, a temporary structure within one of the few public squares of bahrain. recently the site has developed more towards a large intersection for the car rather than a pedestrian plaza for its citizens, but under modified conditions, the centralized and historic area contains the potential for a lively urban space. covering the entire square to generate a sense of place, a roof structure of sheer fabric transforms into a shared environment, hosting lectures, movie screenings, public interviews and workshops. traffic is heavily reduced, returning the area back to the people for gatherings and activities.

aerial view of the covered public square
image © camille zakharia | all images courtesy of a-bureau



large tables and furniture are scattered throughout the pavilion for exhibitions, meetings, games and picnics. the light translucent material changes the climatic conditions with a silver reflective thermal screening on the top surface, mimicking the low technology method used in greenhouses. the existing fountain’s evaporation process cools the micro-climate creating an inviting oasis.

palm trees extend beyond the roof structure
image © camille zakharia

palm trees intersect the fabric and continue through the roof plane
image © camille zakharia

translucent fabric
image © camille zakharia

view of the roof plane and surrounding urban development
image © camille zakharia

detail of roof supports
image © camille zakharia

image © camille zakharia

existing fountain creates micro-climate
image © camille zakharia

people freely walk within the once heavily-used streets
image © camille zakharia

tables for displays
image © camille zakharia

tables for displays
image © camille zakharia

exhibit for architectural models
image © camille zakharia

tables for picnics
image © camille zakharia

aerial view
image © camille zakharia

fewer cars pass through the square than before
image © camille zakharia

lively gathering at night
image © camille zakharia

gathering at night
image © camille zakharia

at night
image © camille zakharia

lecture held within the dark space
image © camille zakharia

installation of the fabric
image © camille zakharia

mobile planter
image © camille zakharia

fabrication of urban furniture
image © camille zakharia

site plan





project info:


organizer: manama capital of arab culture 2012, ministry of culture, kingdom of bahrain
architect: noura al sayeh & leopold banchini
exhibition design: noura al sayeh & leopold banchini
construction: syed m. ahmed, masy int.
creative wrought iron factory
bu hussain aluminium and mirrors
photography: eman ali

  • they drew a square
    great design

    Reylt says:
  • More like….they covered the shape that was already there….and that was a square.
    Great idea, I hope it stays forever! Simple solution to resolve a great urban design problem of dealing with the car.

    capt obvious says:
  • nice pictures too

    ghassan says:
  • I am from Bahrain and live close to the area. This “pavilion” makes the place feel weird. It makes the space feel too closed and somewhat claustrophobic. It almost feels like a construction site, but then you realize that it’s not. It’s very unnecessary.

    Moreover, this is part of the government’s desperate campaign to fix its tarnished image after crushing the anti-dictatorial protests. Dictators love putting up “public” displays to give themselves legitimacy in front of the world as their legitimacy is questioned and rejected by the people.

    anon says:
  • I attended some of the events that took place in the pavilion (including the Bernard Khoury + Ahmed Al-Ali lectures) and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed them. The pavilion itself was lovely and intimate; its utter simplicity added to its genius.

    It was a beautiful program, well done.

    Abdulla Janahi says:

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