Winners have been announced at the Bab Al Bahrain Open Ideas Competition with the proposal "Pearl Dive" by Swiss architect Lukas Lenherr taking home the $15,000 First Prize. Awards for the Second and Third Place were given to teams from Italy and the Netherlands.
The competition invited ideas from urban planners, architects, designers, students and creative thinkers to redesign Bab al Bahrain square, one of the few existing public squares in Bahrain. Significance was added to this competition by the recent political events that have taken place across the region, encouraging questions about social representation, public identity, urban integration, sense of place, and historic importance.
The jury was comprised of Italian Domus magazine editor-in-chief Joseph Grima, Lebanese architect Bernard Khoury, Dutch architect Bjarne Mastenbroek, Emirate architect Ahmad Al Ali, Bahraini urban planner Ma'moun Almoayed and the Culture Minister of Bahrain Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa.
1st Prize: Pearl Dive
by Lukas Lenherr, Switzerland
From the jury report: "This project was awarded the first prize because it went beyond the limitations of the Bab al Bahrain site and explored new frontiers for an urban proposal.
While it completely disregards the conventions on public water accessibility, it offers a convincing urban attractor through a very simple and radical gesture of inversion. The collage of ordinary programs, through their careful assembly, create a powerful urban device. The jury appreciated the simplicity and power of the proposal, supported by a very precise architectural expression which was reduced to its strict intentions."
2nd Prize: Two Rooms
by Baukuh and Guido Tesio, Italy
From the jury report: "Members of the jury were intrigued by the architect's decision to break down the site into two smaller components - one responding to the context of Bab al Bahrain and the other to the larger open space. Working within the existing urban pattern, the project creates a sense of curiosity with elements of surprise introduced at an urban level, creating an introverted version of a public plaza. Once more, the jury was impressed by the clarity of the proposal and its conciseness. Although it is a very architectural proposal it creates a new typology for public space within the city."
3rd Prize: New Times Square
by Partizan Publik- Dus Architects, the Netherlands
From the jury report: "Through a very pragmatic approach to what citizens expect from a public space, this proposal did not exclude any element of public life and instead embraced all those elements with a particular focus on the automobile. It allows for a self-programming of the space through its undetermined state and offers through very little means an immediate and feasible response to the site and acknowledges the importance within the city of the immaterial means of communication."
All images courtesy of Bab Al Bahrain Competition.