A Basic Anatomy of the Majlis
The Majlis looks pretty simple, a cube of clay walls with simple square windows, too basic almost. But there’s so much to the clay cube. Let’s start with the exterior chairs mounted on the walls of the Majlis facing east and facing west. These are not very clear in the photos (I explain it better in the diagram below) because they are just little ledges, just a foot or two of clay pouting out of the building (yes, pouting, this was the perfect synonym for sticking out).
Can you guess why the chairs are made to face in those directions? Okay, so the chair/ledge mounted to the East facing wall is the afternoon seating. Why? So that the building can double as a shade cover against the afternoon sun.
And so obviously the chair/ledge mounted to the building that’s West facing is shaded during the morning against the intense desert sun.
Kind of cool, ha.
Now for the windows. They have an indented mound around them to create a pocket for wind to blow into the building. It might sound like it doesn’t really make that much of a difference but it does (this is one of the times you don’t want to ask why).
Window ledges were made with corals sometimes and in the case of this Majlis (in photo), it seems like it was for decorative reasons and a way to just hold loose clay together.
I’m definitely not an architect, although, it was one of my career choices as I was brainstorming at my High School Councillor’s office but that’s not the point. Here’s another building (below) that I felt was beautiful. The symmetry felt so natural and unfortunately scenes like this are a little too common with older buildings in Bahrain today.
I would like to see the essence of our culture show up on our buildings as it did in these photos. The chair or ledge is something that kept us outside to see the passerby, connect, and feel more apart of a country or space. It was more than just a chair, it was a social tool that kept us close. Imagine how important that would be in an incredibly diverse country like Bahrain.