Swiss architect Valerio Olgiati was selected to build the museum and entrance of the UNESCO Pearling Path in Bahrain. Developed between 2016 and 2019, the new concrete construction functions as the foyer to the medina, conserves the ruins on the site, and houses a cultural heritage museum. The site’s use of scale provides a new understanding of the idea of public space.
© Archive Olgiati
The site contains ruins that form part of the UNESCO Pearling Path. The entire building functions as the entrance to the cultural heritage site and the foyer for the medina. It is an urban room for the people of Muharraq with the scale of a public park. Concrete elements are placed along the property boundary to form a new locus in the dense city. A large space is created in which a forest of columns and wind towers hold a horizontal plate ten meters above ground. A roof, understood as an archaic gesture, donates vital shadows for the people of Muharraq in this very hot climate and produces a new and unique situation through its different scale. Slightly set back in the shadow is an enigmatic house in which the museum of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage is located. As a totality, the building creates a universe in itself that is the entrance for the Pearling Path and the city beyond.
DATE: 2016-2019 / LOCATION: Muharraq, Bahrain / AREA: 49.855 m2 (built) / PROGRAM: museum and entrance / STATUS: built / DESIGN: VALERIO OLGIATI / COLLABORATORS: Sofia Albrigo (project manager), Anthony Bonnici / LOCAL ARCHITECT: Emaar Engineering / CONSTRUCTION: Almoayyed Contracting Group / CLIENTS: Bahrain Authority of Culture & Antiquities / PHOTOS: © Archive Olgiati