United Gulf Bank
United Gulf Bank is a 12-story, 100,000-square-foot office building located in the Diplomatic Quarter of Manama, Bahrain, which is responsive to the physical, climatological and cultural conditions intrinsic to its context.
The pre-cast concrete exterior wall addresses issues of climate, context, and solar orientation. All windows are deeply recessed, blocking out high mid-day sun, while vertical green glass fins, oriented north-south, effectively intercept lower east and west sunlight while maintaining visual transparency.
The building’s curved facade, which evokes the local fishing boats, acts as a mediator between the public realm of the street and the private realm of the bank. The three-story-high arcade at ground level creates an additional mediating layer, shielding pedestrians from the harsh sun, dust, noise and heat of the street, and continuing the tradition of arcades and shaded streets commonly found in the region.
Open office areas surround the 12-story atrium, bridged by glass block terraces that allow daylight to penetrate the interior spaces, and subdivide the atrium, creating a scale similar to the traditional Middle Eastern courtyard. The terraces contain small pools which recall traditional courtyard fountains. At night, the terraces glow as hanging fixtures cast light both up through the glass block and down to the atrium floor.