Urban renewal in Manama

Back in February 2015, there were plans to renovate the 40-year-old Manama Central Market amongst a number of other projects that have been proposed for Bahrain’s capital over the next two years.

Recently drawn up by the government-run Capital Trustees Authority that replaced the Manama Municipal Council in December last year, a plan submitted yesterday for the rundown inner-city of Bahrain’s capital to be refurbished as part of a giant urban renewal project initiative is to go before parliament shortly.

Heritage Houses
Heritage Houses

In effect, the Gulf Daily News recently reported that Capital Trustees Board is called to conduct studies and that it has been given until the end of September to present its proposals including costs.

The extent of the refurbishment operation is set to include the old Manama Gudaibiya, Suq, Hoora, Jithafs and Blad Al Qadeem and should not include as per board acting chairman Mazen Alumran : “The interior of homes don’t need to be remodelled according to traditional designs and colours, we just want this to be reflected on the outside” adding : “It will involve using old building materials and homes will not be allowed to have window air conditioning units, among other conditions”.

“We are compiling our lists and from initial indicators we can see that the cost is less than expected benefits, with several tourists appreciating the view, even residents themselves”.

“Several old homes are beautiful but due to neglect and lack of maintenance have become an eyesore, and are also in disastrous and appalling state.”

Regionally, there is a precedent located in Doha, Qatar with Suq Waqeef renovated district where a whole sector of Doha’s derelict inner-city was rebuilt using traditional and ancestral building construction methods and materials.

Alumran did mention that all of costs will be met by the authority with work commencing most probably in January 2016 once the proposal passed parliamentary approval.

There is however some difference with Doha’s Suq Waqeef in that it is assumed that Manama’s scheme would be more or less an operation of conventional refurbishment rather than tearing down and rebuilding from scratch a whole quarter of a town.  Manama wanting to remain close to the vernacular urban fabric, intends to first repertoire all homes, shops, schools, hospitals, etc. before stripping them down and upgrading their external finishes whilst at the same time improving all related amenities and public utilities and services.

“We are planning to start with 10 per cent of the project next year and by 2018 we plan to cover 30 per cent of the listed homes,” Alumran said.

“It is a long project, and despite its low cost, work will take time because the homes are located in narrow alleyways”.

So through these words of the responsible person on the job, one can guess that the confirmation that the operation is more of a surgery one and as such, it would be phased over time, districts and urban components.

Alumran said the initiative could also be introduced on shops in the Old Manama Suq.

“We have a special committee alongside ministries concerned to revive the Old Manama Suq and having the front of shops remodelled in similar fashion to the homes will certainly ensure a uniform style,” he added.

“I believe that we could complete work between eight to 10 years depending on funding and progress of work, some homes may be added, but at least effort is put in.”

Sources :

Gulf Daily News  http://www.gulf-daily-news.com

TradeArabia News Service  http://www.tradearabia.com

 

 

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