XXXXXX01 or, The Gentle Monster
Entry for the Bab Al Bahrain Square Competition, Bahrain.
Published in Domus Magazine, no.958.
With Matteo Mannini Architects
Once the true gate of the city, providing a monumental interface between the Suq and the sea, the site of the competition appears today dramatically separated from the historical city and the sea. XXXXXX01 is an attempt to connect these two entities with a continuous architectural landscape. XXXXXX01 presents itself as a strong territorial sign, a well-individuated organism yet composed as a montage of parts, and a superimposition of programmatic and morphological layers.
At the same time an iconic object and a loose framework, a territorial mark and an urban strategy, a gentle monster whose body is able to carefully compose the monumental and the intimate, thriving metropolitan public-ness and private life. The grid is the true connective element, the ruling modular system of the project.
Aligned with the perimeter of the site, it is based on a series of square courtyards continuously connected by porticoes on the ground floor. The idea of functional zones—besides the necessity to leave sufficient space for different activities— does not make much sense today and therefore the plan was conceived as a precise framework that can be articulated in manifold situations, allowing the highest degree of freedom for a heterogeneously organized society.
The regularity of the grid ensures the maximum flexibility of the first floor space, which can host the most various programs and activities, as well as work and leisure space, housing and services. The underground reorganization of the traffic and parking spaces allows the landscape of gardens, dunes, trees and pavilions, to overcome King Faisal Highway establishing an environmental continuity with the financial harbor, configuring XXXXXX01 as Manama’s main gate to the newly reclaimed lands on the Northern shoreline.