Al Naseej Textile Factory

Leopold Banchini Architects

Architects: Leopold Banchini Architects
Location: Bani Jamrah, Bahrain
Area: 340 m2
Year: 2021
Photography: Dylan Perrenoud

Shaded by a light Arish structure, Bahraini weavers used to dig a hole in the ground to fit their legs. By this simple action, the ground was transformed into an endless table to tense the wires needed for their delicate work. Arish is a traditional building technique using the dry leaves of the date palms and weaving them into a strong surface. Both the textiles and the architecture protecting the artisans were woven onsite.

The Al Naseej factory is a textile weaving facility and social space for the local craftspeople of Bani Jamrah. It is a component of a broader effort by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities aimed at redefining and reinvigorating traditional crafts and industries across Bahrain.

A tight grid of timber columns and beams is used on the site as both an organizing principle and a reference to the date palm plantations in the north of the island, irrigated by a complex network of water channels. The resulting building is a low single-story construction stretching the entire boundary of the site. Only the palm trees pierce through the horizontal ceiling to become the expression of the building.

Internally however, the structure gains figuration derived from the sunken areas where the weavers sit as they operate the timber loom. Spaces for both the production of tapestries and weavings as well as social exchange are defined through a series of precise excavations below the building’s floor level. Date palms, ponds and fountains are placed throughout the interior to further break up the rigidity of the gridded structure. The structure is both a garden and a building, open yet protected. Specific functions enclosed solely by glass panels merge with the shaded garden.

Made from regionally sourced materials, the construction of the building relies upon and celebrates local construction and craft traditions. The shaded structure, greenery, water features and seating areas create a naturally refreshing garden for the inhabitants of the village: a woven architecture.