Office for Applied Histories
House of Architectural Heritage,
Muharraq, BH
20.10.19 — 20.11.19

In its first exhibition, Office for Applied Histories presents selections from its ongoing research into Manama souk’s later-modern architecture, framed by its attempts at establishing correlative interdependencies between the market’s changing morphology and its functions within Manama’s urban economy.

Saturday to Thursday 
9am-1pm, 4pm-7pm

House of Architectural Heritage,
Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Research

Muharraq, BH
Laila Al Shaikh, Abdulla Janani, Anastasiia Noga and Batool Al Mosawi – Applied Histories

Ali J. Ali – Bahrain Economists Society
Khalifa Shaheen – photographer
Gintare Sii – graphic designer 

Acknowledgements – Noura Al Sayeh, Batool Al Shaikh, Dr. Isa Amin, Hala Yateem, Isa Al Zeera, Ebrahim Al Shakhoori, Regie Dalupang, Aravind M. Gopinathan, Dr. Ali J. Al-Moulani, Fatin Al Alawi, Fatima Burashed

Supported by

The display at House of Architectural Heritage is anchored by architectural drawings of case studies relevant to the research’s current trajectory, variably dating from the 1970s and 1980s, and models-in-progress reconstructing the very sites on which they stand, as they appeared in 1951.  

Here, the office continues to pursue its interest in focusing on the relationship between the souk’s built heritage and the shifting economic structures of the market itself, the port to which it was adjacent, Manama as an urban economic hamlet, the country at large, and, finally, global capitalism. Underlining the choice of case studies are its members’ interests in as follows: the relationship between the traditional sub-districts grouped by petty craftsmanship and the arcades that replaced them; the effects the processes of state centralization and financialization had on the urban fabric; the role of the port in discourses surrounding colonial legacy, decolonization, and propagation of logistics within globalized economies; and the relationship between the public sphere of the souk, strategies of urban planning and the service economy.

The displayed reconstructions – reflecting the current progress of a continuous process of cross-referencing disparate archival material, including historical surveys, architectural drawings, photographs and oral testimonies – prelude a proposed visualization of significant spatial events that occurred shortly thereafter, by an attempt at understanding their physical context. Put forward is the conjecture that these, through their intersection with the office’s aforementioned interests and by revealing the spatial dimensions of the public sphere, are foremost amongst a set of complex causalities that restructured the town as a whole, and brought about the very late-modern architectures which underpin the research.

At the core of the The Modern Souk lies the dual hypothesis that the regionalist modernisms of the market should be viewed as both an embodiment of the local, national, regional and global spatiotemporal organizations, as well as a catalyst of the irreversible material and immaterial changes to Manama’s urban environment. Tracing the unfolding of the social, cultural, economic and political processes in between the two time periods represented by the models and architectural drawings serves as a central conceptual device that can enable us to reconcile the tension symbolized by the architectural modernization of the souk.


69B, Road 1501. Suq al-Qaisariya. Muharraq