Titled "In Muharraq", the Bahrain Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, explores the city's architectural and urban heritage, regeneration, and conservation. Curated by Noura Al Sayeh and Ghassan Chemali, the pavilion will be on display at the Arsenale from May 22nd until November 21st, 2021.
The exhibition highlights the country's pearling narrative, bringing together social, environmental, and cultural aspects and showcasing the initiative being done by UNESCO, titled "Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy". The exhibition showcases the results and the processes through models, objects, artifacts, and drawings, displaying the project in its current state. The pavilion sets “pearling” as a "binder between the physical makings of the city and its identity, and questions whether pearls, oysters, coral stones, cars and humans can sustainably cohabit today".
The exhibition consists of a plateau-like platform on which different objects are displayed. The platform showcases fragment of the constituents that compose the Muharraqi revival process, such as single building projects or urban scale regeneration policies. These fragments include natural components like oyster shells or mock-ups of new developments, which include projects by Office KGDVS and Bas Smets, architectural models of multi-storey car parks designed by Christian Kerez, and original pieces extracted from the traditional Muharraqi architecture.
Similar to UNESCO's “Pearling Path” World Heritage Site, the exhibition revolves around a narrative of the foregone pearling economy. To visualize this narrative, Valerio Olgiati designed the pearling visitor center to highlight the role of the site as a social binder. In addition, the Siyadi Pearl Museum, designed by Studio Anne Holtrop, turns the attention towards the history of craftmanship.
- Commissioned by: Her Excellency Sheikha Mai Bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, Head of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities.
- Curated by: Architects Noura Al Sayeh and Ghassan Chemali.
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