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House of Architectural Heritage, 2017 by Leopold Banchini Architects and Noura Al Sayeh

This case study is part of the essay String of pearls: preserving cultural heritage in Bahrain, featured in AR May 2020 on Tourism. Click here to read the full article

Although Brutalist in weight and materiality, presenting to the street metal doors framed within an austere concrete facade, it is in fact a light and porous space. Like a garage door, the large metal panels slide up, opening fully at both ends of the long and narrow site, creating a covered, public passage in the dense urban fabric.

‘Intelligent and unpretentious, it is an essay in the delicate coexistence of old and new’

Inside, glass walls retract in a concertina fold. The narrow interior treats the neighbours’ walls as museum pieces and presents them as a ready-made exhibit. From coral stone walls to mud plaster to industrial blockwork, the House of Architectural Heritage shows the evolution of techniques and materials used to build the houses of Muharraq – urban conditions frozen in time. The ground floor hosts temporary exhibitions and a small mezzanine presents a collection of books and the archive of architect John Yarwood, who surveyed and documented Muharraq’s architectural heritage during the 1980s. 

Although it does not relate directly to the pearling pathway narrative (it is part of the NGO Shaikh Ebrahim Center for Culture & Research, also headed by Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa), this building is an expression of the city’s rehabilitation efforts. It is an extension of the street, intelligent and unpretentious, an essay in the delicate coexistence of old and new. 

House centre architectural review drawings4

House centre architectural review drawings4

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This piece is featured in the AR May 2020 issue on Tourism – click here to buy your copy today