National Pavilion of the Kingdom of Bahrain

Expo Milan, Italy, 2015

Known as the land of a million palm trees within the living memory of its inhabitants, Bahrain was praised for its green surroundings and agricultural production in a relatively barren region. The discovery of oil in the 1930's led to a major shift in industry which impacted the appearance of the landscape over time. For the Expo Milano Bahrain's agrarian heritage was re-examined in a 2,000 m2 pavilion. Its design is conceived as a succession of walled fruit gardens intersected by roofed exhibition spaces. The forms are loosely inspired by those found in the archeological ruins of the temple of Barbar, the temple built for Enki, the god of sweet water, that consequently permitted the development of a lush vegetation and agriculture in Bahrain. The content of the gardens is an interpretation of the island's fruit gardens described by fourteenth century travelogues. Made of 350 different pieces of white prefabricated concrete and 216 fruit trees, the pavilion was designed to be dismantled and transported to Bahrain where it was reassembled in 2017. The pavilion was awarded the Silver Award for Best Architecture and Landscape at the Milan Expo and it was selected for the Dutch Design Awards 2015. It is part of the revitalisation project of Muharraq which received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2019.

In collaboration with Studio Anne Holtrop
Commissioner: Ministry of Culture Bahrain
Archaeology curator: Dr Nadine Boksmati-Fatouh
Film and sound installation: Armin Linke
Furniture: Muller Van Severen
Graphic design: Mevis & Van Deursen
Photography: Jeroen Musch