Networked Urbanism

design thinking initiatives for a better urban life

Design critics: Belinda Tato and Jose Luis Vallejo, principals of Ecosistema Urbano

This project proposes what a more robust mass transit system could do for Bahrain, it’s possibility as a systemic urban strategy and how public spaces can be utilized and enhanced in this system. It’s motivation is to provide greater accessibility and efficiency, but its goal is to create a cohesion between the many urban fragments. Our investigation of Muharraq led us to create an architecture that would looped and solidified these fragments. This continuum in space is a bridge that would enhance the daily lives and experiences of Bahrain. It would also reform many lost connections such as the relationship between the sea and city. 

Bahrain is a small country located in the Persian Gulf. Bahrain means two seas and has a history that dates back to over 5000 years. Most of Bahrain’s urban areas are concentrated in the North, while desert covers the interior and south. Bahrain is an island and water plays a vital role in every aspects of its past and present. Land reclamation since the 1960s have changed the coastlines of Bahrain. Historic cores that once bordered the water are now landlocked.

One of the major issue within Bahrain is the fragmentation of its cities. This transpired within the demographic and built environment of the country. Only 46 percent of the country is Bahraini. Migrant workers account for 77% of the workforce while also doing 98% of the low paying jobs. The average wait time for the bus in Bahrain is 40 minutes. Making it impossible to get around by public transportation. Bahrain will need a mass transit infrastructure 4 times larger than today to adequately service the country. Promoting accessibility  and alternative mobility are the keys to Bahrain’s future.

We offer a vision of how an expanded mass transit infrastructure might change Bahrain, with lateral and vertical development that can sustain systemic growth and improve the urban context by making accessible public spaces and more vibrant communities. But the heart of our project connects Manama, the capital and Muharraq, the historic city into a necklace serviced by  shuttles and a transport hub, and with stops at significant social, civic, and commercial areas. The architectural intervention that will link this connection is a bridge that spans from the historic city’s fabric, over a transit hub and highway, and into the sea.

This new bridge serves several purposes. It is made of a lightweight wood and steel construction that allows for it to span great distances. It uses textile to provide climatic comfort, and sustainable technologies to power itself.  It starts at the old Muharraq’s suoq which is accessible from the Pearl Trail, a cultural route with several important historic landmarks, and establishes a covered public space that can be used throughout the day as the new fish market or a gathering place at night. The Muharraq suoq also marked the border of the water in the past, since the suoq were usually situated to meet the ships and their goods. This relationship of the old city to the water has been lost due to land reclamation. The bridge continues over a road and becomes an elevated transit hub for below. Further along the bridge, it crosses over a highway built in the 1960s that further isolate the historic city from the water. The bridge continues all the way into the water and ending with a floating barge that welcomes people to interact with the sea. The end point stitches back the old fabric of the city to the sea, while jumping over several obstacles to be functional as a pedestrian path, transit hub, and public space. is a platform for sharing knowledge and design thinking experiences with the world around us, breaking through the walls of academia in an attempt to improve the society in which we live.