Niño Restaurant: Bahraini, plus Italian

Niño', a restaurant, is UdA’s first project in a Persian Gulf country. The firm, founded in 1992 in Turin, Italy, was awarded the contract for construction of a new building to house two restaurants in a newly urbanised area of Manama City, the capital of Bahrain.

Niño', a restaurant, is UdA’s first project in a Persian Gulf country. The firm, founded in 1992 in Turin, Italy, was awarded the contract for construction of a new building to house two restaurants in a newly urbanised area of Manama City, the capital of Bahrain.

The building serves as a container for what UdA observed to be a core activity in the national economy: a particular type of tourism. Bahrain is an island country that offers leisure destinations for citizens of nearby Saudi Arabia. Visitors will come for as little as a few days or a weekend, as well as for resort stays. For the local residents, particularly the younger generations, shopping centres and restaurants are the settings for social encounters and important events.

Planning for the building and its restaurant functions thus becomes an exercise in interpreting local and regional ways of life. The focus on dealing with these realities is illustrated in the building’s external form, the alternating irony and functional practicality of exterior and interior design, and in the precise use of materials and surface finishes, down to the level of table service and ornament. The building exterior is one of absolute simplicity, emphasizing horizontal planes and uniform surfaces that recall the region’s desert landscapes.The structural form is a closed cube, surfaced in white, interrupted by only a few voids and projecting volumes executed in the raw colour of Corten steel. The interruptions in the cube offer small oasis-like zones.

The interior is executed in high-quality finishes, with treated concrete floors, custom-designed furniture and gigantograph images that reference Italian cooking and ingredients. Careful attention is also given to window treatments, lighting and the design of restaurant work stations. The space is fluid, free for the movements and without screens which limit the view, the various fields are well defined and enable different degrees of privacy. The Italian spirit is also made thanks to the quality of the furnishings and finishes.

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