Gold MedalSwitzerland

George Arbid, Kingdom of Bahrain National Participation, Biennale di Venezia 2014
Fundamentalists and Other Arab Modernisms.
Architecture from the Arab World 1914–2014
Bahrain Ministry of Culture, Bahrain; Arab Centre for Architecture, Beirut

Design: Jonathan Hares, Lausanne
Print: Musumeci S.p.A., Quart
ISBN: 978-9-95840-34-1

In its pavilion at the 14th International Architecture Biennale, the Kingdom of Bahrain puts a book centre stage. It contains a selection of 100 buildings signifying committed modernity in the Arab world.

The format of the small tome certainly has a representative air. Material and design, on the other hand, are characterized by a generous restraint. The matte, slightly yellowish cardboard cover with reduced typography has something sandy and simultaneously bright about it. The smooth matte paper inside the book is white, the black and white photographs and plans are framed by the yellowish tinge of the cover page. Rarely is any of the buildings represented by more than three images on one page: in a very freely interpreted picture arrangement, the white of the paper playfully surrounds the printed areas. The lettering of the project pages restricts itself to the naming of objects and picture captions without any formulated text.

These few, finely nuanced contrasts are sufficient for the book designer to add spin to the relationship between the depicted architectures of the north-western world and Arab culture – at least as far as visual experience goes.