As participants of the Unlimited Doha Design Prize organised by the British Council in Qatar, we had a unique opportunity to discover the rather fascinating urban boom in Doha. From the historical heritage to some of the new urban development, the city is undergoing tremendous transformation as the 2022 deadline approaches.
Since oil was discovered in Qatar in 1940, its capital Doha has seen major infrastructure changes. As the city expanded, new neighbourhoods were created further away from Old Doha. Skyscrapers have emerged in areas like West Bay often built on reclaimed land or new residential estate like The Pearl and Lusail City.
The original urban fabric of Doha was built around central courtyard houses in between narrow alleyways providing shade and privacy. Traditionally made of local limestone and a gypsum render, the natural conditions have had a critical impact leading to disrepair. Today, some of these historical buildings can be seen in Old Doha and districts such as Al Ghanem and Al Doha Al Jadeeda, where communities of migrant workers settled at the end of the 20th century.
Unlike the famous market place of Souq Waqif which was restored to its original form, other districts are being completely redeveloped. The latest example of Msheireb properties aims to retain the original character whilst implementing the latest innovation with a large number of LEED certified buildings. Historical courtyard houses are converted into museums and intertwined between high-rise buildings. Architectural features tend to reinterpret Arabian architecture, such as wind towers, thick walls and shaded arcades or alleyways.
In recent years, Qatar’s has been playing a leading role in the art world and have commissioned a large number of projects such as the Museum of Islamic Art by famous architect I.M. Pei or the Burj Qatar by Jean Nouvel. Both have a strong influence in ancient islamic architecture and geometric patterns, thus defining the future image of the state.
In less than 6 years, the first FIFA wold cup in the middle-east will kick-off and Qatar is to deliver 8 stadiums in and around Doha along with accommodation for 600,000 visitors. The main stadium Al Rayyan where the finals will take place is inspired by sand dunes and features an intricate patterned skin. Along with the underground metro system due for completion in 2019, road work infrastructure and accessibility throughout the city is begin reconfigured.
We used to think that football is just a sport, not anymore…