Bahrain weaving facility by Leopold Banchini Architects “celebrates local construction and craft traditions”

Exterior of weaving facility in Bahrain by Leopold Banchini Architects

Ponds, palm trees and sunken seating areas interrupt the gridded layout of the Al Naseej Textile Factory in Bahrain, which Leopold Banchini Architects designed to incorporate traditional building methods.

Geneva studio Leopold Banchini Architects created the textile factory and social space for the local craftspeople of Bani Jamrah, a village that is renowned for maintaining a traditional weaving method.

Al Naseej Textile Factory from street level
Al Naseej Textile Factory is a weaving facility in Bahrain

The Al Naseej Textile Factory takes its cues from this historic weaving method and also references arish shading structures that are made by weaving the dried leaves of date palms.

It was commissioned by Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities as part of a programme aimed at reinvigorating traditional crafts and industries across the country.

Facade of arish panels
The building is surrounded by woven panels

The ancient weaving technique of Bani Jamrah involves interlacing two types of wool to create cloth with detailed and colourful patterns. Artisans use a wooden loom to produce lengths of the textile for traditional clothing and scarves.

Weavers use their hands and legs to operate the loom and would traditionally have dug holes in the earth to fit their legs so they could stretch the threads out on the ground.

Gridded interior of Al Naseej Textile Factory
Its interior is organised by a timber grid

The woven panels that surround the Al Naseej Textile Factory are supported by a gridded timber framework that nods to date palm plantations in the north of Bahrain.

This low-lying wooden structure organises the space and is positioned around palm trees that extend through openings in the factory’s roof.

Sunken pits inside Al Naseej Textile Factory that are used for weaving
The floor is broken up by holes in the ground 

“The resulting building is a low and quiet gridded street elevation stretching the entire boundary of the site,” the architects explained.

“Only the palm trees pierce through the horizontal ceiling and become the expression of the building.”

Inside the facility, the floor level is interrupted by several pits in which the weavers sit while using their looms.

Other voids built into the floor help to organise the internal space into areas for tapestry production and social activities.

Interior of textile factory in Bahrain
Palm trees extend through the roof

Some of the holes also contain ponds or fountains that introduce a calming natural element to the space.

The use of the arish panels and facade openings help to naturally ventilate the Al Naseej Textile Factory. Specific functional areas are enclosed using glass walls that maintain the open feel of the interior.

Loom in the textile factory in Bahrain
The design celebrates ancient weaving techniques

“Composed of regionally available materials, the construction of the building relies upon and celebrates local construction and craft traditions,” the studio added.

“The shaded structure, greenery, water network and seating areas create a naturally refreshing garden for the inhabitants of the village; a woven architecture.”

Ponds inside factory in Bahrain
Some rooms are enclosed by glass walls

Leopold Banchini Architects is the eponymous studio of architect Leopold Banchini, which he founded in 2017.

The studio’s previous projects include a concrete exhibition space in Bahrain featuring retractable glass walls and a home with glass-walled rooms that was designed with architect Daniel Zamarbide.

The photography is by Dylan Perrenoud.

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