Théâtre National de Bahreïn

2007 / 2012

National Theatre of Bahrain

Public facilities / Culture / Interior design

1,001-seat auditorium, 150-seat flexible auditorium, exhibition halls

The National Theatre of Bahrain is among the Kingdom’s largest undertakings. Bahrain means “two seas” in Arabic: this maritime reference captures the character of the Arab-Persian Gulf island, whose extreme horizontality fostered the project’s form, Architecture-Studio chose to orient this 12,000 sqm theatre towards the lagoon to preserve its views and its majestic profile facing the sea. The Bahrain National Theatre shares landscaped public spaces with the National Museum, creating a true cultural pole for the Kingdom.

The National Theatre of Bahrain is distinguished by its canopy, a weave of openwork aluminum inspired by the country’s traditional wicker rooftops that blends perfectly with its surroundings. Set within this canopy, a stainless-steel-covered shell houses the 1,001-seat auditorium with a foyer enabling spectators to move from one balcony to another. As a counterpoint to the transparency of the main lobby, this shimmering gold enclosed space stands as a foundation stone: this is truly where it all happens. Inside, the auditorium is sculpted with organic shapes and completely paneled in elm, wood having been selected for its superior acoustic qualities. Similar to the inverted hull of a ship, this paneling spotlights age-old craftsmanship reminiscent of the architecture of dhows, the ancestral fishing boats still sometimes even used today for fishing the pearls, that were the first source of wealth for the Gulf before oil and gas were discovered.

Under the Manama night sky, between land and sea, the theatre seems to become surreal, glowing and reflecting light.

Client: Kingdom of Bahrain Ministry of Culture & Ministry of Works and Housing
Architect: Architecture-Studio
Engineer: SETEC Bâtiment
Local consultant: ATKINS
Stage designer: Théâtre Project Consultants
Lighting designer: 8’18’’ L’Observatoire
Assignment: Full design and works supervision
Surface: 12, 000 SQM
Commission: 2007
Completion: 2012
Award: USITT Architecture Honor Award 2015

Al-Manama, Bahrain

National Theatre of Bahrain

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