PROJECT: Persian Gulf Guest House
LOCATION: Bahrain, Reef Island
ARCHITECT: Jalal AlNajjar
PHOTOGRAPHY: Aldo Amoretti
Located on the coast of Bahrain’s manmade Reef Island, the Persian Gulf guest house is an ‘alien in its surroundings’ says the Architect Jalal AlNajjar. The local client required the five-room guest house to be spectacular with private spaces that entertain high-profile guests. The architect says, ‘almost everything in the house was custom made’.
As the site faced north-west, the initial concept proposes the inclusion of a courtyard, which further splits into two, allowing the wind to funnel through it. With the concept of minimalism, the idea was to have this monolithic volume, even the door, all rendered in the same material. The building inspired by traditional Bahraini courtyard houses that used wind towers to catch the cooling, prevailing northwest winds.
DESIGNING AND PLANNING:
The house has a vast angular entrance with four tilting planes of pristine plaster angled towards a towering 3m door. Once entering through the main entrance, visitors find themselves in a courtyard framed by building’s three travertine and concrete volumes. On the left is the pool house, on the right is the living room and above is the cantilevered first floor.
Consequently, the pool house has a dramatically sloping roof. Subsequently, these volumes of the building bow towards each other with the corner of the first floor just millimeters from the pool house roof. Unlike any other house with functional spaces next to the main entrance, the house offers a transcendent experience to the visitors. ‘People expect to walk into the house, but instead, they are met with this courtyard and view,’ says AlNajjar.
By the use of slender columns on the ground floor, the first floor almost seems to be floating. The living room is an entertaining space in the house. Further, a 33m-long indoor-to-outdoor breakfast bar extends outside through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The idea was to merge the inside with the outside. This got achieved by the windows in the lounge slide which creates 4m opening.
The first floor hosts five bedrooms with balconies facing towards the sea, benefitting from the prevailing winds and privacy. The balcony of the master bedroom positions above the sea, offering uninterrupted views. Moreover, the first floor has a provision of skylight funnel light into the bathroom and the late-night lounge, with the tree acting as a centerpiece.
The lounge area over the pool house backed by a brass-lined bar. Above the bar is 40 sq. m. gym. While in the basement is a spa with a massage room and hammam.
The entire house features the same material, a plaster that imported from Italy. Also, the living area backed by a wall of glass and teak slats that offers privacy and features lighting and shelving. Further, the breakfast bar carves a single piece of travertine. Consequently, the bathrooms and spa teak-lined. A concrete and fumed oak staircase connects the ground-floor lounge with the first-floor bedrooms.
In conclusion, this project was the most complex and ambitious project in the career of the architect. Further, AlNajjar adds, ‘This is a structure that is not only breathtaking in its local context, but it could also be transposed anywhere else in the world with similar effect.’
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