Bahrain: When Culture Promotes Sustainable Mobility

Bahrain: When Culture Promotes Sustainable Mobility

Cultural preservation, attractiveness index and complex social issues are involved in Pearling Path mobility plan.

It is not common to develop a comprehensive mobility plan at city scale for the Authority for Culture and Antiquities: this makes the case of Muharraq a unique one. This historical city was the capital of Bahrain until 1923, and 17 buildings related to the pearling economy were recently included in the UNESCO World Heritage lists. A project of restoration of these buildings is currently underway, as well as the development of a pathway, called Pearling Path that will link historical buildings, squares and other open public spaces.

The Pearling Path is approximately 3.4km long, and it crosses a variety of diverse environments, from renovated pedestrian areas, to congested retail streets in the proximity of the vibrant Market Area, to a very narrow urban fabric not accessible by car, to low density residential neighbourhoods. The project has a strong planning and architectural component however it predominantly involves very crucial factors like cultural preservation, increased touristic demand and the complex social issue of increasing Muharraq attractiveness for Bahraini families, which have abandoned the city centre in favour of suburban villas.

The main challenge to deliver a mobility plan for the Pearling Path implementation is the lack of comprehensive transport master plan or parking plan at city scale. In order to overcome this issue, Systematica developed future long-term scenarios compatible with the Conservation Plan’s goals, assessing how the Pearling Path will contribute to reach those goals.

A detailed GIS database is created in order to collate all relevant collected data into equal and aggregated cells of 150x150m. Data was collected during extensive survey campaigns and comprise mainly of building land uses, current and projected population, on-street and off-street parking demand and parking stock and shortfall. On the basis of the above, parking and mobility strategies were set, underpinning integrated transport policies and actions to be implemented in the short and long terms, alongside the regeneration and development planning vision of the Bahraini Authority of Culture and Antiquities, the project’s major promoter.