I rant you risten

Monday, February 14, 2005

king of my castle...

I’ve always found architecture in Bahrain to be such a fascinating thing… well not really fascinating, more along the lines of “What were you thinking buddy?” I mean ok to each his own, you want to build a house, then go for it, do what you want as long as you’re happy... But if it looks stupid, then I’m within my right to laugh at your castle…

Columns are the true craze in Bahrain, if you don’t have at least two columns outside your house, then you might as well shoot your Architect… … it’s like that Mel Brooks History of the World line “Columns columns columns turn any hovel to a showplace”. That line really works here… for those of you that live in Bahrain, next time you’re out on a drive, go take a look at all the columns at the entrance to people’s houses… It’s like people go to visit architects, they like what they see, then they offer their own opinion (fair enough it’s their house)… “well we like what you’ve done with the rotunda and the glass menagerie looks great… but the entrance to the house is still missing something… me the ‘Madame’ feel like it could use a couple more columns… “ It’s like keeping up with the Joneses but Bahraini style… When I build my dream house someday, there’s gonna be 18 greco-roman marble columns gracing the entrance to my house announcing my arrival to the neighborhood…

Another house touch up is the latest fake rock wall that people are going for these days.. The problem is that not only is it not real rock, but these people have refused to try and get a more “real rock color, “ no they go for the in your face, shit brown rock in hope of the grand canyonish rock wall feel… delightful…

People have gotten so much more creative with their painting.. they now go for the camouflage effect. I have a neighbor who decided that when his dream house was built, he wanted to go for shocking more than anything… So this bozo spends his money on getting his house painted to look like (wait for it – imagine.. just imagine) a Saharan camouflage Giraffe print??? I know… just try to digest what I’ve just described and think about it for a second… Fucking insane if you ask me..

Another one of my neighbors (yes the weird houses all moved into my block – we’re thinking of moving) got a little stumped on what he could do with the extra space outside his house right on the road. A light bulb goes on and then it explodes in his head leaving him with an idea… The dude, decides he wants a fake “well” built outside his house on the main road, y’know to give off this Oasis / Wild West feel to his abode… So he went and blew some of his cash on having this fake rock well built and then to just add that finishing touch, he attached a bucket to a rope and hung it off the well, y’know for effect… I wonder if he blames himself for being a dumb ass that someone stole the bucket off the well… I mean what are you thinking? Hey let me tie up the horses and fetch them a pail of water, they sure look thirsty…

Architecture here used to be so intelligent, people would utilize their materials to work with the type of climate here… No air conditioning? No problem, we’ll build these wind towers on our roofs and they’ll help channel the cool air down to the house… Humidity and heat? Not a problem, we’ll build the foundation of the house using coral stones and they’ll suck up the humidity in the walls and keep the floor cool… Everyone here is so obsessed with building houses out of concrete and cement and it just leaves me wondering why? Generations and generations of builders had it right.. can’t we come up with some sort of agreement? Use some of the architecture of our past and some from today to make some great looking houses?

Real architects on this island are a dying breed, being replaced by cut and paste experts willing to do anything for a buck… If the client’s design wont work, you should inform them… let them know what their options are… I’ve seen a couple of Architectural Marvels in my short lifetime and they usually leave me awestruck. I get that same feeling when I see old Bahraini Architecture and its beautiful simplicity. Why would anyone want to throw it all away? An architect once told me, when you design, everything needs to have a purpose, “form follows function”… we need to bring that kind of thinking back to this region. You shouldn’t design something for someone if it’s not right… Money is money and you want to flaunt it, by all means, but spend the money wisely… why give yourself a stupid paint job when in a year or two you’re going to have to touch it up again… As Mies Van der Rohe said, “less is more.”

Today, practices in Bahrain have databases of so called architectural styles from which they do a cut and paste job and hey presto here’s your house… But what are these choices based on? They are based on an incorrect preconceived ideas of what ‘western’ (especially American) architecture is ie: “80s Dynasty style” once admired as the pinnacle of architecture and borrowed to convey importance and used as a symbol of status… This is a big no no, they have their architecture and it works for them, we need to take what we have and rethink it… Take everything back to the blackboard and use our past to help bring back an identity to our future…

In closing, you really should do whatever you please with your house, it’s your house, you should make it as comfortable as possible… but the outside of your house does reflect on the neighborhood… so do us all a favor and before you go out and have your house painted magenta and lime green, stop for a second and think about it… what does it say about you?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

too late!!!

red devil said...

I agree with most of what you have said, Edu, but the problem in Bahrain is that Architects in Bahrain tend to ignore their surroundings either because the client is ignorant or they have an idea they wish to implement. In architecture you should take from the immediate environment and complement both the old and new structures with the design. The point isnt to make the old building or the new building an eyesore.
I see this happening all the time, either the guy literally wants to live in the White House or he wants to show his neighbors that he is much grander than them. Unfortunately, this type of attitude ruins the landscape for himself and his surroundings.
The real scare are the highrises and skyscrapers coming up. These have the potential to really destroy a skyline.

Anonymous said...

intewestingg blog in dubai the architecture of houses reallly suckkk! itss justt so wacked out of context i actually believe the hidden inner beauty of middle eastern architecture is deep within its rooots soo letss bringg on teh traditionall !

pink sushi

Bahraini Rants said...

Sushi, you and Red Devil have hit on two points that I've given a lot of thought to...

The traditional is beautiful but it was for a different period in time... We need to start considering taking what worked from our past and applying it or even reinventing it for our future... Environmental Architecture is very important for this region, yet doesn't receive the respect it deserves... How great would it be to have your architect inform you of ways to maximize your space or minimize your costs by placing the air conditioner in a strategic location that would cool everything properly.. or utilizing solar power to keep bills down...

This comes back to my statement that Real Architects are a dying breed here... we need people that are going to take on the challenge of doing something original. We want thinkers and who are going to give designing a house some serious thought... utilize your space.. this is a cornerstone of Architecture... why aren't you following this???

Anonymous said...

You know your country is moving forward when people can have intellectual bitch fest about architecture! I love it!!!

Preternatural_aL said...

Go to Warqa or Barsha (Dubai) and u can see houses painted PINK, PURPLE(not the nice purple, if there is a nice purple for a house),Yellow with Lime green on the side .. giving what effect ,, i no know!

Anonymous said...

how refreshing!
unfortunately this part of the world equates progress with the destruction of its past. Imagine the urban landscape decades from now with no references to one's past; i think this would be a national and cultural tragedy.
Architecture is a physical reflection of the society within which it finds itself - it is a proof of existence. Europe strives to keep its cultural heritage by restoring and upkeeping its vernacular architecture while at the same time it builds contemporary structures where possible. Keeping our cultural heritage alive in the Middle East through our buildings is just as important, so why do we dismiss it?
I often drive through villages in Bahrain and see the dilapidated beauty that exists and this a sad state of affairs. Part of our identity as a people comes from architecture and what we have is being ignored and/or is being replaced by architectural monstrosities.

Having said all that, present day architecture in Bahrain is in dire need of realignment. I am not in favour of recreating traditional architecture-there's no progress in that. So many times I see structures going up and there's a spark of hope that its going to be an interesting building and then the next thing you know they've stuck on all this ornamentation - I didnt realise that ancient greek architecture from the 5th century BC had a direct relevance on the architecture of furniture stores in Mahooz.

I am in favour of introducing 'good' architecture by architects who understand what this means. Taking a quick look around, it feels as though the majority of architects on this island are just a bunch of cowboys that deceive a naive public/clientele. I find this a dishonest practice and can just about understand how we have reached this ridiculous state of ornamentation.

kavi

Anonymous said...

I stole that bucket . I needed a pot to shit in. After which I returned it to its finally resting place , the shit, that is , right back into their hideous well . The bucket still comes in handy when all other sources of Shizzle deposit are in use . Well for one ;loo for another .