Right in the midst of the worst government crackdowns in Bahrain last year, we interviewed Camille Zakharia – a talented photographer whose work has been shown all over the world. Recently he sent us images of A-Bureau’s new Bab Al Bahrain pavilion – a deceptively simple piece of fabric erected in the city center.
Designed by Sir Charles Belgrave and completed in 1945, the “gateway to Bahrain” used to be directly adjacent to the Gulf, but land reclamation and development has completely transformed the area. It is now necessary to walk more than 10 minutes to reach the sea, and traffic has usurped a major rendevouz area. This temporary pavilion changes that, if only for a short while.
Commissioned by the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Ministry of Culture, the pavilion is comprised of a fabric roof hoisted on thin white poles. Inside large tables are used to showcase various cultural artifacts and other furniture allows visitors to rest comfortably in the otherwise open urban space.
The silver roof’s thermal screening mitigates solar gain, keeping the area beneath the fabric pavilion comfortable even at midday, while the Bab Al Bahrain fountain further contributes to a comfortable micro climate.
The pavilion is used to showcase architectural models, to hold workshops, and screen movies, and has been arranged as part of the Manama Capital of Arab Culture 2012 exhibition.
A temporary structure, the pavilion does not interfere with the existing site at all. In fact, the fabric stretches around palm trees and new flora have been planted in mobile planters so that they can be re-used elsewhere when the exhibition is complete.
But even more compelling, a simple piece of fabric has reclaimed the gateway in a sense, allowing Bahrainis to once again enjoy an urban gathering space almost completely overrun by traffic in the past few years.
All images courtesy of Camille Zakharia
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