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Qaisariah Souq in Muharraq, Bahrain by Studio Anne Holtrop

01 anne holtrop qaisariah souq index

The moulds for the concrete walls of Qaisariah Souq’s rehabilitation were filled with sand at their edges, raggedly and inconstantly, before the concrete mix was poured in

This case study is part of a longer essay on soil as shuttering – click here to read more

The Qaisariah Souq played a large role in the pearling economy. Deals to purchase pearls were made in coffee shops that lined the souq, and wood destined for the bows of pearling fleets was received and stored. These traditional markets are intrinsic to the urban fabric of Bahrain. The first idea for Muharraq’s rehabilitated souq was a section of tent-like, softly pitched roofs, extruded along the length of the site. The architectural language felt adequate and natural, but it was an automatic and preconceived response to the brief.

Opting instead for a much less controlled proposal, Holtrop argues that non-referential architecture is more interesting and more contemporary – he isn’t interested in nostalgia. The traditional coral stone material characteristic of the area is still put to use, and concrete elements are cast with ‘unconstrained’ sand borders. These amorphous edges ‘emphasise the forms of the coral stone slabs that can be found in the old structures’. What results is open to interpretation – the transformation from intuition, through a process of refinement, to a final building which hints at the spirit of place.

Cs01 qaisariah souq anne holtrop model architectural review soil shuttering

Cs01 qaisariah souq anne holtrop model architectural review soil shuttering

Source: Studio Anne Holtrop

Cs01 anne holtrop qaisariah souq model soil shuttering architectural review

Cs01 anne holtrop qaisariah souq model soil shuttering architectural review

Source: Studio Anne Holtrop

Cs01 anne holtrop qaisariah souq model soil shuttering architectural review 1

Cs01 anne holtrop qaisariah souq model soil shuttering architectural review 1

Source: Studio Anne Holtrop

Cs01 anne holtrop qaisariah souq drawings architectural review

Cs01 anne holtrop qaisariah souq drawings architectural review

Click to download

Lead image: courtesy of Studio Anne Holtrop 

This case study is part of a longer piece on the use of soil as shuttering – click here to read more