Behind the scenes of Msheireb Downtown

Doha’s ambitious plan to completely redevelop the historical centre of the city is gathering pace. The man in charge of the masterplan, Msheireb Properties chief executive Abdulla Al Mehshadi explains all

One project in Doha is aiming to achieve two very big outcomes: a restoration of history and the world’s largest environmentally friendly master development.

Msheireb Downtown, in the centre of the Qatari capital, will backtrack a century to restore six of the city’s oldest homes and then propel forward to create 100 of the most advanced green buildings, each with at least a gold rating by the US green building certification programme LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

The new developments also will signify a rebirth of Qatari architecture, an element Msheireb Properties, a subsidiary of Qatar Foundation that has been established to manage the city centre project, laments has been lost through the desire for modernisation in recent decades.

Msheireb Properties CEO Abdulla Al Mehshadi says the experimental project will blend the best of all worlds.

“We cannot expect people to be passionate about preserving history with it being difficult to live in — people are now accustomed to having modern living items,” Al Mehshadi tells Arabian Business Qatar. “So from there came the idea of mixing the two: having pure Qatari architecture [and] having something modern to the extent that people could live easily… in fact we’re trying to take that to the next level by adapting the smart city solution.”

The new buildings will house residents, retail outlets and office space, as well as two history-themed hotels. Little glass will be used in their construction to limit the infamous Qatari sun’s penetration inside, while verandas will help provide shade, reducing energy consumption needed for artificial cooling.

Outdoor community gardens also will be a feature, while an underground road network and 10,000 car spaces will take most vehicles off the surface roads, allowing a more pedestrian-friendly area with cleaner air.

Streets will run north to south to facilitate the natural wind flow, while alleyways will also help provide some cooling. Rather than individual air conditioners for each property or block, the design includes large district-cooling units to service multiple buildings to consolidate energy production and reduce wastage.

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