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Wed 13 May 2009 04:00 AM

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Haute Qatar

Cutting edge architecture and design are colliding with Islamic tradition to revitalise the once sleepy Gulf state.

Haute Qatar
Haute Qatar
(Images TechnoQ)
Haute Qatar
(Images TechnoQ)
Haute Qatar
Haute Qatar
(Image Jovana Obradovic/ITP; Woods Bagot)
Haute Qatar
(Image Jovana Obradovic/ITP)
Haute Qatar
(Image Jovana Obradovic/ITP; Irfan Naqi)

Cutting edge architecture and design are colliding with Islamic tradition to revitalise the once sleepy Gulf state.

In a recent report on the current status of the construction industry in Qatar, Proleads Global found a plethora of projects moving forward in the country. In fact, the market research firm found 191 ongoing projects that it classified as ‘major', which, all tolled, were valued at US $82.5 billion.

The projects range from real estate and civil infrastructure to leisure and entertainment and, while 82% of the projects are late, budgets have not been affected and all of them are continuing steadily. By way of comparison, according to a February 2009 Proleads report, more than half of the UAE's projects across the same sectors have been postponed.

"While the Qatar economy is not immune to the global economic slowdown, it is expected to continue a reasonable rate of growth this year," said Emil Rademeyer, director of Proleads Global. "[The growth] is driven by the benefits from a long-term strategy to export liquefied natural gas from its vast gas field."

"Qatar is starting to see a return on the investments it made in natural gas 20 years ago," explained Zeyad Al Jaidah, co-founder and managing director of TechnoQ, a Doha-based subcontractor that has outfitted several of the country's projects with everything from a/v, broadcast and IT to lighting, security and fire systems.

"The government only makes long-term deals when it comes to oil and gas. That way, if countries want the gas or don't want the gas, they pay. If they have somewhere to store it or nowhere to store it, they pay... Natural gas has been a really a wonderful thing for Qatar. We got into it when no one else wanted to deal with the headaches associated with producing, storing and transporting it," said Al Jaidah.

On the architecture front, Ibrahim Jaidah, managing director of Doha's Arab Engineering Bureau, doesn't see the economic slowdown that has affected much of the rest of the world, coming to Qatar anytime soon.

"Whether it's government-owned or private sector, growth in Qatar is steady, healthy and mature," explained Jaidah during an interview with Architect in early April. "Whether it's hotels or high-rises, in Qatar, more and more projects are happening and there are quite a few currently on the design table."

Courting international firms and signature architects is nothing new for the growing desert nation. With the 2006 Asian Games under its belt and a bid for the 2016 Olympic Games in the works, it seems that rapid development is happening on two separate but related fronts: projects and profiles.

From what Architect has heard, Qatar is quickly becoming the Middle East's new playground for architects, designers and engineers. To that end, we visited Qatar to get the lowdown on some of its highest profile projects. 1. The Pearl Qatar

The Pearl Qatar is a multibillion dollar manmade island project spanning 985 acres (400 hectares) of reclaimed land. The development is the country's first international urban development venture, its largest urban development and the first to offer freehold ownership to foreign nationals.

The Pearl Qatar is a 13-island mixed-use development comprising 10 themed districts to be developed over five years housing beachfront villas, single-family homes, luxury apartments, exclusive penthouses, 5-star hotels, marinas, schools and retail and restaurant offerings.

Once completed The Pearl will create over 32 kilometers of new coastline, for use as a residential estate with an expected 15,000 dwellings by 2010. The name "The Pearl" was chosen because the island will be built on one of Qatar's historical pearl diving sites.

One of UDC's primary objectives is to incorporate a diversity of living environments-from high-end luxurious villa living with private sandy beaches to fashionable apartment-style accommodation with ocean views.

The Pearl QatarIndustry:Mixed Use Development

Client:State of Qatar

Masterplan & Design Architect:Callison

Developer:United Development Company

Project & Construction Mgr:Dar Al-Handasah

AV & selected security:TechnoQ

Completion Date:2012

Location:West Bay Lagoon

Value:US$ 2.5 billion

2. Al Shaqab Equestrian AcademyA new centre of equestrian excellence for the display, training, care and breeding of Arabian horses is taking shape within Education City. Known as Al Shaqab Academy, the project aims to provide the region's first comprehensive equestrian facility.

Spread over an area of 800,000m², Al Shaqab will include state-of-the-art stables; a riding school with covered indoor training arena; surrounding stables for horses and ponies; an equestrian club for private members with recreational and dining facilities; a museum with exhibition area and library.

The project also includes a five-level back-to-back Grandstand - half of which faces the indoor arena and other half towards the outdoor arena.

Al Shaqab Equestrian AcademyIndustry:Sport Facilities

Client:Qatar Foundation

Architect:Leigh & Orange

AV Systems:TechnoQ

Award DateFebruary 2008

Completion Date:Early 2009

Location:Education City

Programme & Construction mgr:KEO International Consultants

Contractor:Gulf Leighton

Value:US $407 million

3. Al Hitmi Mixed Use Development

Located on a prime waterfront site along the Doha Corniche, this contemporary project is the newest landmark in this city's rapidly emerging skyline.

The development consists of a 7-story high linearly arranged office block anchored by a 15-story residential tower. The concept for the project was inspired by imagery of stone formations cantilevered over a body of water, to create a metamorphic link to the Persian Gulf. Clad with dark tinted glass, polished and textured natural stones tiles, the massing of the project is a direct response to the development's proximity to the water.

A sky-lit atrium featuring internal landscaped gardens traverses horizontally between the office blocks and folds up into the residential tower. Internally, public and private spaces are designed to allow natural light and provide views of the Doha Corniche and Bay.

With construction scheduled for completion in summer 2009, the unique architectural design of this project promises to generate debate and attract international attention.

Al Hitmi Mixed Use DevelopmentIndustry:Commercial/Residential

Client:Hitmi Property Development

Architect:Norr Group International Consultants

AV Systems:TechnoQ

Completion Date:July 2009 (approximate)

Location:Doha Corniche

Total built area:63,462m²

Office:G+7

Residential:G+15

4. Qatar Science & Technology Park

Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser al Missned, wife of the Emir of Qatar and chairwoman of the Qatar Foundation for Education, wanted something that would establish Qatar as an international hub for scientific exploration and create a sense of community between the academic faculty and independent research groups.

The veiled ‘Incubator Centre' is flanked by clusters of ITTC laboratory buildings that are clad in patterned steel screen to create geometric shapes while protecting and facilitating high-level research.

QSTP's gently undulating roof provides shading to the outdoor areas and allows the buildings to be physically and symbolically connected. Moreover, the patterned stainless steel which creates a sense of movement from below, starkly contrasts the horizontal landscape from afar.

Qatar Science & Technology ParkIndustry:Education

Client:Qatar Foundation for Education

Architect:Woods Bagot

Director:Mark Mitcheson-Low

Design director:Alf Seeling

Structural engineer:Connell Wagner

MEP engineer:Hyder Consulting

Interior design:Woods Bagot

Landscape architect:Woods Bagot

AV Systems:TechnoQ

Completion date:March 2009

Location:Education City, Doha

5. Museum of Islamic Art

The new Museum of Islamic Art in Doha is dedicated to becoming the world's foremost museum of Islamic art. The design and location of the building literally and figuratively positions the museum to become a catalyst for the development of Doha as a centre of excellence for its burgeoning culture and education sectors.

Moreover, it demonstrates the vision and commitment of the State of Qatar to the international cultural/museums sector. In architectural terms, it is one of the most distinguished modern buildings in the region. It is a structure of exceptional simplicity and austerity, which was designed by who many consider to be one of the most important architects in the world. It represents cultural, scholarly and artistic achievements at the highest possible level.

This museum, along with other museums being planned for the area and the continued interest in bringing international universities to Qatar, could transform the State of Qatar into a centre of scholarship and cultural excellence.

Museum of Islamic ArtIndustry:Leisure/Tourism

Client:Qatar Museums Authority

Architect:IM Pei

Structural Engineer:Leslie E. Robertson Associates

Mechanical Engineer:Jaros Baum & Bolles

Lighting Designer:Fisher Marantz Stone

Project Manager:Perry Y. Chin

Completion Date:Early 2009

Location:MIA Island, Doha Corniche

Total built area:35,500m²

6. The W Hotel

W Doha aims to bring a new flavor to the region as the first lifestyle design hotel in Doha. According to its corporate website, "The hotel sets the standard for modern luxury accommodation in the city, offering residents all the benefits and amenities that come with being connected to a W." The design of W Doha is modern and contemporary with an infusion of the design elements indigenous to the region, including lighting, colour and space for social interaction.

The 291 rooms and suites of the W hotel occupy the lower 15 floors of the West Bay building, while floors 16 through 29 are home to the W Residences. Boasting signature W interior design, the W Residences will spoil occupants with a variety of features including fully equipped luxury kitchens and all the latest amenities & facilities in kitchens and bathrooms.

All Residences will be serviced daily by the W Style Department, and have access to other W services such as the 24 hour Welcome Ambassador and Wheels service, dedicated covered parking and preferred access to the W's bars, restaurants, lounges and spas under the W VIP program.

The W HotelIndustry:Hospitality/Residential

Client:J&A Jaidah Holdings

Architect:United Designers of London

AV Systems:TechnoQ

Completion Date:March 2009

Location:West Bay, Doha

Value:US$ billions

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