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Bahrain Pavilion presents regenerative efforts and urban heritage of old Muharraq at Venice Biennale
Italy Architecture News - Jul 22, 2021 - 13:02 1798 views
The Bahrain Pavilion has presented an exhibition that details the regenerative processes of old Muharraq city, conservation efforts, identity and urban heritage of the city at the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale.
The exhibition, titled In Muharraq: The Pearling Path, curated by Noura Al-Sayeh, Ghassan Chemali, is displayed at the Arsenale venue which can be seen between May 22 and November 21, 2021 in Venice, Italy.
The exhibition, showcased with models, objects, minutes of meetings, artefacts, drawings, and conversations, highlights the unique legacy of Bahrain’s pearling era through the architecture and urban heritage of the old city as well as three oyster beds.
While the displayed elements are reflecting its current state, the overall narrative of the exhibition focuses on several social, environmental, cultural and functional aspects of the city.
The exhibition explores both the results and the processes of making of these regenerative efforts, while one of these initiatives is taking place at the centre of the exhibition done by UNESCO, titled "Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy" (or “Pearling Path” in short).
The pavilion takes into account these challenges in reviving the memory of pearling as a backdrop to a culturally-led development approach "and as a binder between the physical makings of the city and its identity."
In addition, it "questions whether pearls, oysters, coral stones, cars, and humans can sustainably and generously cohabit in the city today."
In 2012, "Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy" has become the second World Heritage Site of the Kingdom of Bahrain "as the testimony of its millennia-old pearl collecting tradition and the globally significant single-product island economy and social system it produced."
The nominated sites consist of 15 property components: three vast oyster beds located in the northern territorial waters of Bahrain, one seashore site at the southern tip of Bahrain’s Muharraq Island, and nine clusters of historic buildings consisting of seventeen architectural structures embedded in the urban fabric of Muharraq city.
As part of the Pearling Path revival project, there are 7 new developments designed by world-renowned architects, including Christian Kerez's multistorey carpark, Valerio Olgiati's earth-colored monolithic entrance, which was completed in 2019, Studio Anne Holtrop's Siyadi Pearl Museum, Studio Gionata Rizzi's South Muharraq Conservation and Rehabilitation, in collaboration with Studio ing. Franco Pianon and Associates, Marco Motisi, Samira Kazempour.
At the center of the Bahrain Pavilion, the curators installed an artificial "plateau" where they showcase different objects, artifacts and models on this platform.
The platform presents various types fragments of architectural components that reflect the revival process of the Muharraqi architecture - it involves both single building projects or urban scale regeneration policies.
These objects also include natural components like oyster shells or mock-ups of new developments, including projects designed by Office KGDVS and Bas Smets, the multistorey car parks designed by Christian Kerez, and original pieces extracted from the traditional Muharraqi architecture as well as working documents.
While the pavilion presents the initiative of the UNESCO's “Pearling Path” World Heritage Site, it also highlights the foregone pearling economy.
To illustrate, the exhibition shows Valerio Olgiati's Pearling Path Visitors Centre emphasizes the role of the site as "a social binder". On the other hand, it shows how Studio Anne Holtrop's Siyadi Pearl Museum attracts attention for the history of craftmanship and exchange of knowledge in the city.
The 17th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice has opened to the public on 22 May 2021. The exhibition will be on view till 21 November 2021.
This year’s architecture biennale is themed as "How will we live together?" by the curator Hashim Sarkis, the theme explores a widening context that helps architects to "imagine spaces in which we can generously live together".
We invite our readers to find out WAC's detailed coverage about the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale on our Italy page.
In Muharraq: The Pearling Path exhibition facts
Commissioner: Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture & Antiquities
Curators: Noura Al-Sayeh, Ghassan Chemali
Exhibitors: Bureau Bas Smets, Christian Kerez OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen, Team del Pearling Path (Fatema Abdali Abdulnabi, Shatha Abu El Fath, Ahmad Abd El Nabi, Batool Al Shaikh, Mario Affaki, Fatema Al Hayki, Ahmad Al Jishi, Mustafa Al Zurki, Ronan Dayot, Wissam Fadlalah, Sarah Fareed Hassani, Lucia Gomez, Yehya Hassan, Marwa Nabeel, Tamer Nassar, Faisal Soudaga, Shadi Taha), Studio Anne Holtrop, Studio Gionnata Rizzi, Valerio Olgiati.
All images © Andrea Avezzù, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia unless otherwise stated.
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