The grace of Art Deco

I had referred to Art Deco style buildings in Bahrain in my previous blog. As a reaction to highly ornamental Gothic, Palladian, Indo-Saracenic and a medley of other architectural styles Art Deco had fascinated many parts of the world from Miami to Mumbai from the 1930s onwards and Bahrain was no exception. The reason for this could have been the fact that in terms of British influence, Bahrain fell under the Bombay Presidency and there was a lot of traffic of men and ideas between the two places.

The finest building in Bahrain in the Art Deco style and in my opinion among the most graceful buildings in Bahrain is the Law Courts across the road from Yateem Centre with its modest double storey, spartan façade, linear horizontal and vertical patterns and nuances and sensitively highlighted strips of paint.

I am not sure if it is still being used for the purpose for which it was built but this evidently 1930s building is worth preserving and maintaining and sad will be the day it is swept away [like the kitchenware store next to it 15 years ago which was also Art Deco]. In a way the grand structure in its simplicity, charm and strength signifies all that is characteristic of the Arab ethos.

Once the centuries-old methodologies and material to build houses and public places was dispensed with in Bahrain, Art deco was among the new trends and the lanes of Gudaibiya still have a few private mansions in the style.

The Maharashtra Mandal on the road from Pakistan Club towards American Hospital is one such though its front has now been built over and much of the key elements of Art Deco hidden away as a consequence. Another lovely Art Deco villa that stood opposite Punjabi Restaurant off Last Chance was demolished a couple of years ago.


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