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Doha rebornby Oliver Ephgrave on Mar 3, 2012
It is very clear that Qatar, and specifically Doha, is in a state of architectural metamorphosis. With its ambitious infrastructure and stadia plans for the 2022 World Cup, a multi-billion dollar scheme taking shape in the heart of the old town, and more skyscrapers set to grace the skyline, the city is certain to see dramatic changes over the next decade.
Simon Gathercole, director for architecture firm Allies & Morrison, believes that the city already boasts an interesting urban makeup.
“The centre of the city has twin capital centres,” he remarks. “The first is the dense old town, which extends to the upcoming Msheireb, one of our firm’s big projects, while the second centre is the new town, West Bay. Both areas are connected by the Corniche. A grand public park is planned between, which will contain many interesting buildings.”
He continues: “The city’s identity has becoming stronger. We have the historic souk, the parkland and the high-rises of West Bay, which represent the modern aspirations of the city. I think there is a future opportunity for buildings lining the parkland, as part of bigger structured plans, and the Corniche would also benefit from upgrades.”
Ibrahim Mohammed Al Jaidah, MD of local firm Arab Engineering Bureau, states that the city is now one of the best locations for architecture in the region.
“A new school of Arab architecture has emerged that is driven by signature architects from around the world. Doha is a paradise for architects, as well as students that are studying the subject.
“Even now, we have some great modern buildings that are rooted in the context. IM Pei’s Museum of Islamic Art looks very Arabic, while Jean Nouvel has designed a very modern tower, the Burj Qatar, with an Arabic façade that recalls a Mashrabiya screen,” notes Al Jaidah.
William Maibusch, Qatar representative for the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, also cites Nouvel’s tower as a good example of the culturally-appropriate architecture that is prevalent in Doha.
“When I visited Dubai, I felt that the skyline resembled Manhattan, as there are lots of glassy towers. Doha’s skyline also has a modern look, but it is also respectful of Qatar’s culture and history. This is a welcome change from other Gulf cities.”
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