Places of Production Aluminium

Kingdom of Bahrain’s National Participation at the 15th
International Architecture Exhibition
La Biennale de Venezia- Arsenale

28th May- 31st November 2016

Places of Production- Aluminium is the Kingdom of Bahrain’s National Participation at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition- La Biennale de Venezia. The pavilion, located at the Arsenale Artiglierie in Venice, was commissioned by Her Excellency Sh. Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture & Antiquities.

The Exhibition

Places of Production

The first aluminium smelter in the Gulf region was inaugurated in 1968 in Bahrain and is today the fourth largest single-site smelter in the world. It continues a history of metal trade that finds its roots in the third millennium BC when the Islands were at the crossroads of the regional trade route for copper and tin.

The smelter was initiated as an effort to diversify the economy away from its reliance on oil by broadening the industrial infrastructure although incidentally relying heavily on the oil industry and its byproducts. At roughly the same time, standardised products of construction such as window frames, cladding panels and others also made their entry into the Island and progressively infiltrated all aspects of the construction process partially disconnecting building from local context. Today, aluminium cladding of high-rises and towers, and increasingly in the re-cladding of older facades, is one of the most visible expressions of contemporary architecture in Bahrain.

The presence of the smelter, also developed a local economy of aluminium- both formal and informal. Alongside, large locally-based international companies producing typical byproducts of aluminium, smaller workshops have developed with a focus on a smaller-scale production of aluminium.

Through an investigation of the gestures in the production processes of aluminium, the installation in the Arsenale, using film, photography and sand-casted aluminium, is an attempt to extract a different potential of the material use.


Anne Holtrop

Anne Holtrop (1977) graduated in 2005 from the Academie van Bouwkunst in Amsterdam with a cum laude degree in architecture and in 2009 started his own studio. Today his office is based in Muharraq (Bahrain) and Amsterdam (The Netherlands). His work ranges from models to temporary spaces and buildings. In 2015 his first two major buildings, Museum Fort Vechten and the National Pavilion of the Kingdom of Bahrain, were completed. He was course director of the Studio for Immediate Spaces master at the Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam from 2012 to 2016, and was editor of the architectural journal Oase from 2005 to 2013. For his practice he has been awarded several grants from the Mondrian Fund, as well as receiving the Charlotte Kohler Prize for Architecture from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds in 2007.

Noura Al-Sayeh

Noura Al-Sayeh (1983) is an architect currently working at the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA) as Head of Architectural Affairs, where she is responsible for overseeing the planning and implementation of cultural institutions and museums as well as the creation of an active agenda of exhibitions and academic exchange initiatives. Previously, she worked as an architect in New York, Jerusalem and Amsterdam. She was the co-curator of Reclaim, Bahrain’s first participation at the 12th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2010, which was awarded the Golden Lion for best national participation and the curator of Background, Bahrain’s second participation at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012, and the deputy general commissioner for the Bahrain Pavilion at the Expo Milan 2015.


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Commissioner: Sh. Mai Al Khalifa

Curators: Anne Holtrop and Noura Al Sayeh

Photography: Armin Linke and Giulia Bruno

Film: Armin Linke in collaboration with Giulia Bruno, Giuseppe Ielasi and Renato Rinaldi

Installation: Studio Anne Holtrop

Pavilion Installation: Restaura SL, Milan and Ronchetti, Milan

Pavilion Production: Bronsgieterij Kemner, Amsterdam

Structural Engineering: Mario Monotti

Research: Mawane

Graphic design: Jonathan Hares