Off / The Grid

Bab Al Bahrain public square / Infrastructure
  Competition 2011 - Finalist Project

Autonomous from the current urban development, the new Bab Al Bahrein square is a self-sustained island, a field for public life as reclaimed by citizens. No rhetorical monumentality, no arab decorative clichés give shape to its form. Conversely, the square asserts its nature as an infrastructural system using energetic autonomy to support public life and political freedom.

The energy obtained through a vast system of solar collectors on the roofs allows the square to be detached from the primary power grid, as electrical power is used on-site for multiple activities in the hollow pillars. Organized in a symbolical and physical grid of serial, simple, non-figurative elements, the place defines a mode of coexistence. 
 The whole area constitutes a meeting territory, integrating facilities for communication, public speaking and performing, a place for sharing, and evolutive activities for the entire population. The energy provides charge for an electric bike sharing system, computers, evening lighting, projecting devices, cooking facilities and so on, turning the square into a self-sustained system, an open frame to be filled with different meanings.

In a region where the landscape has been forced and artificially reinvented, natural elements are used here in a double way: as a serialized grid of trees acting as a buffer zone around the main square for it to be separated and connected at once with the neighbourhood, and as a net of grass and sand areas, hard surfaces and water basins, which dialogue with the technological structures to host different activities while evoking the regional landscape without nostalgia.