We have just returned from Doha where we participated in a design residency organised by the British Council in Qatar. The brief for the 10 day challenge was to explore the subject of accessibility and connectivity within the ‘Open City’ theme. A study area was identified in sectors 15 and 16 called ‘Al Ghanem’ and ‘Al Doha Al Jadeeda’ to examine ideas that help improve the experience of movement within the city. Our first impression was that whilst Qatar is known for its luxury high rise towers, you can still find areas of low rise buildings with a mix of styles up to the 60’s and 70’s. The question is: for how long?
Grouped into teams of 5 architects and designers both from London and the GCC region, we started by looking closely at the neighbourhood and analysing the existing situation. As part of the residency we had the opportunity to visit and attend lectures from some of the key players in the development plan of Doha in the horizon of 2022 deadline. These included Msheireb Properties, Supreme Committee delivering the FIFA World Cup.
Historically routed in the urban fabric, the 2 districts of interest are now surrounded by large motorways and have fallen into disrepair, ever so contrasting with the modern shiny skyscrapers. What was once local neighbourhoods in the outskirts of the city, has now become the center retaining memories of Doha’s heritage and lifestyle in the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.
With ad-hoc residential buildings wildly invading the area our challenge was to propose ideas that could benefit both the actual and future inhabitants, whilst improving navigation through the city and proposing an inclusive design solution.
It was a fantastic experience to collaborate and exchange ideas with people from different professional and cultural backgrounds.
A lifetime opportunity that we would not hesitate to repeat!