Four Seasons Hotel

SOM’s 273-bedroom Four Seasons Hotel in Bahrain is a new visual anchor in the city with its unusual composition of concrete piers and suspended volumes. It opens up a new world of luxury, and is a story of dreams and changing fortunes.

Architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) sees the newly completed Four Seasons Hotel in the capital city of Manama, Bahrain, as a series of opportunities. “It’s not very often that you design the masterplan and then get to build on it. And there aren’t many standalone hotel projects either,” says project architect Thomas Behr. “We are building a relationship with the city and we hope this project is part of the legacy, and that it leads to other projects like it.” SOM designed its first project in Bahrain, the captivating United Gulf Bank, nearly thirty years ago and Behr says that these early schemes are still referenced to as some of the nicest in town. At The Four Seasons Hotel, the stakes were particularly high – to design an iconic waterfront hotel on a prominent 432,000 square meters plot, known as Bahrain Bay, that didn’t yet exist.

“It is a very strong design in the Bahrain skyline because it is simple”

A new visual anchor in Bahrain with its unusual composition of concrete piers and suspended volumes

Striking and intimate

Commissioned by Signature Hotels Management Company S.P.C. the project began in 2004 with a masterplan for reclaimed land arranged from the mainland in concentric circles. The 68-storey Four Seasons Hotel is at the heart of this plan. It’s lining up with the water canal to the sea behind, on its own private twelve-acre island accessible by bridge or boat. Behr explains: ‘The building’s design is informed by the need to make it striking on an urban scale, yet intimate for guests so it feels like a resort.” “It is a very strong design when you look at it in the Bahrain skyline because it is so simple. The concrete clad ‘piers’ or ‘walls’ are very dominant. It makes a statement, it’s a kind of gateway to the city,” says Behr. “You can read the programme of the building from the exterior. The so called ‘skypod’ restaurant is in the suspended volume at the top, the guest bedrooms in the middle and the lobby at the bottom.”

Resort-like

The urban ambitions come together to feel more resort-like at the tower’s base; through the landscaping, massing and materiality. Textures and patterning on the concrete walls, as well as the limestone-clad podium, create an earthy, natural finish that prevents it from being ‘bland and monolithic’. The entranceway is made more intimate through the addition of an external bronze powdercoated aluminium ceilinged porte-cochere, which continues into the lobby. The impact of the 200 meter tall tower is softened by a series of pavilions for the spa and conference facilities on either side, as well as a Mediterranean-style garden planted with olive trees and wild flowers. The Reynaers products, selected by façade contractor Jungbluth Alu Partners because “the company has a long-standing good relationship with Reynaers and the service is very pro-active”, says lead engineer Roland Jungbluth, add to this striking appearance and individual cosiness. Each bedroom has full-height windows overlooking the bays, while the aluminium panels throughout the building visually connect the disparate volumes. In all, as Behr explains, The Four Seasons Hotel was a very important project to get built: “With all the difficulties Bahrain went through as a result of the global economic crisis, many projects got cancelled. This is the first major project since, and has kickstarted a new wave of development.”

Thomas Behr was born in Aachen, Germany in 1969. He graduated from the University of Technology in Aachen with a Bachelor in Architecture. Now he’s a director at SOM’s New York office. He joined the firm in 2000 and has since then worked on a diverse range of international projects. After predominantly working on European projects in his early years, Behr shifted his focus to the Middle East, where he oversees and coordinates all SOM’s efforts. He is currently managing the Kuwait University Student Activity and Athletic Facilities, Thakher City in Mecca and the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi. Behr: “I believe that architects have a social, environmental and economic responsibility, and understanding these responsibilities allows me to unlock the true value of a project.”

Roland Jungbluth (Jungbluth Alu Partners)

Roland Jungbluth was born in 1953 in Raeren, Belgium. He has more than thirty years of experience in the business, working as administrative-director for almost twenty years at one of Belgium’s leading aluminium façade manufacturers Pomel Alu. In 2002 he set up Jungbluth Alu Partners sa (JAP) together with the technical director and now partner André Muller. JAP is a specialist façade company that provides technical solutions for the external building envelope in the fields of design, engineering, work management and construction. It is known for its cost-effective and flexible methods, including erecting onsite factories for each project. The company has completed projects all over the world including the 300 meter tall Aspire Tower in Doha, the Qatar National Convention Centre and Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, all in partnership with Reynaers.

Typical element CW 86-EF bespoke solution

Project solution

Systems: Bespoke solution based on CW 86-EF and CW 50-SC, CP 96, CS 77-FP

  

Project description: 

  • 15.000 m² of façade
  • 13.000 m² of CW 86-EF
  • 2.000 m² of CW 50-SC, windows and doors
  • Development of bespoke façade solutions based on the architect’s aesthetic requirements
  • Piers: CW 86 unitised façade
  • VERTICAL face caps:

- Flat caps beside the concrete cladding

- Intermediate caps: Very large face cap (400 mm D x 50 mm W) in two parts. Composition: profile + adjusted glazing bead + clamping profile + base profile face cap & second part face cap screwed together.

  • HORIZONTAL face caps:

- 1st part cap: 25 mm D x 100 mm W

- 2nd part cap: 75 mm D x 50 mm W

- Same glazing bead with smaller clamping profile fixed on one part of the frame

  • Guest rooms: CW 86 unitised façade
  • Structural glazed façade with additional double row ‘finishing cap’ every 3 floors
  • Glass glued on small profile screwed on bearing structure
  • Finishing cap: 400 mm D x 100 mm W
  • Podium (building base): CW 50-SC
  • Steel reinforced CW 50 Slim Line
  • Mullions in two parts mounted on steel core
  • Combined with different standard transoms

Elements: 

  • Piers: 1675 mm W x 3800 mm H (typical element)
  • Guest rooms: 1750 mm W x 3800 mm H
  • Skypod (top level floors): 2000 mm W x 5425 mm H

 Glazing: 

  • 8/16/10 (vision glass)
  • 8/9/10 (panel glass)
Horizontal section CW 86-EF bespoke solution
Vertical section CW 86-EF bespoke solution
Elaborador: 
JAP
Localización: 
Manama, Bahréin View on map
Fotógrafo: 
Waleed AlAbbas
Otros colaboradores: 
Besix (General Contractors) Werner Sobek (Engineering office)
Sistemas Reynaers utilizados: