WAA to design the Bahrain Bay Tower in Manama, Bahrain.
Sited in the currently emerging Bahrain Bay, just north of Manama, the tower encompasses housing, offices, retail, and public spaces–all of which seek to remain flexible and adaptable to future change. In this way, as Bahrain Bay further develops, the tower strengthens local character and supports community needs, while simultaneously creating an iconic destination. Standing at a height of 49 stories–or 170 m–it is composed of two housing components atop of plinth of retail, offices, and a parking garage, the last of which occupies seven stories and includes 700 spaces. The creation of these two housing components within one site, maximizes the amount of glazing within each housing unit, and engages the tower with its adjacent buildings, which also stand at 170 m.
The plinth’s ground floor is publicly accessible and is mostly composed of retail and public lobby space. Due to a division of these ground floor spaces, along the site’s southern edge, a breezeway was created that allows the public to traverse the tower’s entire site–without entering its interior–which serves to infuse the tower’s immediate context with pedestrian life. In this way, the ground level frontages of the tower’s retail spaces are maximized. This also increases the amount of evening lighting on the ground floor, and thus also the adjacent sidewalks and pedestrian walkways. Common areas accessible to all residents–such as cafés and wellness centers–are dispersed throughout the tower, the largest of which is a sprawling roof garden on the tenth floor.
Four types of housing occupy both components of the tower: studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. All are organized in such a way, so that minimum circulation is wrapped around the core, which enables circulation to instead be allocated to the interior of each unit; this maximizes their amount of living space. Each unit was designed so that there are two walls of glazing along their exterior edges, which was made possible by the placement of–most often–four units on each of the tower’s living levels. Floor-to-ceiling height operable windows allow for ample access to light and air from within each living space. Due to this increased floor area ratio, each unit has a covered exterior space nearly equal in size to its interior. And as the circulation of each housing unit occurs along its glazed edges, rather than through an interior corridor, the transition between inside and outside within each unit is dissolved, which allows for seamless living between interior and exterior spaces.
Due to the extensive amounts of glazing on the tower’s façade, a panel-like system of sliding aluminum louvers serves as an additional layer of privacy and shading–in tandem with the façade’s treated glass, and the covered exterior terraces. Together, these elements protect the tower’s interior from passive solar gain, while the louvers lend to the tower, an ever changing and thus chameleon-like appearance, due to the reflections they catch from direct sunlight. As the tower reinterprets its immediate historic context by innovating while retaining essential cultural characteristics, its housing, offices, and retail spaces impart an understated elegance, modernity, and iconic world-class address in Bahrain Bay.
Housing, Hotel, Office, Retail
Date of design
Wiel Arets, Joris van den Hoogen, Jochem Homminga
Jan Beelen, Rogier Jansen
Wafra Real Estate, Kuwait
Pace Architecture Engineering + Planning, Kuwait