The Pavilion of Bahrain Explores Cooling Infrastructures at the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale
The Kingdom of Bahrain announced its participation at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia with a pavilion exhibition titled “Sweating Assets.” Curated by architects Latifa Alkhayat and Maryam Aljomairi, the exhibition highlights the relationship between the extreme heat and humidity that characterizes Bahrain and the inherent need for comfort. The curators aim to show how the necessary cooling infrastructure can be maximized through adaptive means and resource management while reducing its negative impact on the environment.
The pavilion presents a microenvironment of choreographed temperature, humidity, and condensation that mimics the conditions and experiences of life on the island. Here, the high condensate produced by intense air conditioning is explored for its potential to reuse this unintended by-product to redirect water wetlands and agricultural regions in need of replenishment, thus contributing positively to the larger ecology.
Read on to discover the statement from the official press release.
The pavilion, located in Arsenale (Artiglierie) explores the unique climatic conditions of extreme heat and humidity alongside current demands for comfort in Bahrain. The exhibition traverses scales—from the domestic to the territorial—highlighting the position of cooling infrastructure in relation to a wider ecosystem. Sweating Assets is an adaptive means of resource management that entails working with existing systems to their best capacities rather than starting anew. It considers our built environments, infrastructure, and relationships as a complex, resource-rich, man-made landscape subject to cannibalization. By no means encouraging wasteful usage of cooling systems, the possibilities (rather than solutions) made through their necessary consumption are uncovered. In Bahrain’s intense conditions of high heat and humidity, air conditioning produces proportionally high condensate. Utilizing this unintended byproduct of anthropogenic activity, loose ends are tied, redirecting water to other parts within the larger ecology.
The exhibition’s microenvironment is a choreography of temperature, humidity, and condensation. It conveys the omnipresent conditions and experiences of life on the island. Supplementing the import of the climate is a call for the collection and rerouting of the incidental condensate reserves towards wetlands and agricultural regions in need of replenishment. A landscape sits adjacent to a cold condensing volume, demonstrating the dichotomy of industrial systems against transient ecological grounds.
This volume is an emblem of the constantly cooled and condensing living enclosures. As Venice’s thick air comes into contact with the volume, at dew point temperature, water constantly releases across its surface. Coatings, channels, and grooves control condensation patterns along with the movement of water. From the surface, water is collected and led to ‘deposits’ on an earthen landscape. The deposits each represent regions scaled based on quantitative analysis of the cooling they consume and subsequent condensate they produce. The publication “Sweating Assets: On Climate Conditioning and Ecology” compliments the exhibition by providing numerical analysis and qualitative speculations and writings. A nationwide audit studies cooling infrastructure, its environmental implications, and offerings in the form of water.