Al Khalifiyeh Library, Bahrain

Project: FRP façade
Location: Al Khalifiyeh Library, Bahrain
Client: Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities
Architect: Ismail Khonji Architects
Main Contractor: General Contracting & Trading Services Co. W.L.L
Handover: January 2017

​The Al Khalefeyah Library project is situated in the old city centre of Muharraq and is the reconstruction of the original Khalefeyah Library, which was one of the first public libraries to be built in Bahrain. The library was rebuilt on its original location and is designed by the Dutch firm SeARCH bv in collaboration with the Bahrain- based architects PAD. The building accommodates a reading area and a research centre, as well as an internet lab and offices.

Since the original footprint of the library is currently half-occupied by a road extension, the building has been designed on half the existing footprint and stretches vertically over the three levels that cantilever to recall the original footprint of the building. BFG Architecture’s modern Islamic-style FRP façade not only added to the aesthetic charm of the new building, but also had to be structurally sound to bear the load of the cantilever structure. 

A stunning double-sided façade
The library’s look was updated using a geometric Islamic pattern which is clean and modern yet still blends in with its traditional surroundings. The street-facing façade of the library is a clear glass wall sandwiched between two FRP panels. To achieve the look, BFG Architecture produced two identical FRP panels with a painted finish which were affixed on either side of the glass panes. The result is a look that is as dramatic from inside the library as it is from the outside.
Responding to on-site limitations
Due to its location in the old Muharraq souq, BFG Architecture’s technicians worked with very tight space constraints. In addition, construction crews were not allowed to use a crane, so the FRP façade panels had to be hoisted into place using wire pulleys. The façade cantilevers 6 metres out onto the main road, so the FRP panels were designed to bear significant load.​