Qatar: The balance between traditional architecture and sustainability

Qatar is becoming a laboratory for architectural experiments and new projects are rapidly replacing traditional environments, a seminar organised by Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC) was told.

Some speakers, however, argued that a fascinating range of new buildings are making Doha a ‘must see’ tourist destination.

The event at Hamad Bin Khalifa University Student Centre in Education City was titled ‘Can sustainable experimental architecture with respect for cultural heritage exist?’ and aimed to assess and debate Doha’s current architectural transformation.

Architects and sustainability experts discussed keeping Qatar’s culture, traditions and values alive when planning major architectural projects. They agreed that identifying a cohesive, balanced approach to Doha’s urban planning is of prime importance when keeping up with the changing face of global architectural trends seen in Qatar.

Dr Yasser Mahgoub, Head, Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, College of Engineering, Qatar University, said, “Qatar is becoming a “laboratory” for architectural experiments that lack theoretical scientific guidance. New projects are replacing invaluable traditional environments at a rapid pace. The process can be slowed down by increasing awareness and facilitating public participation in urban and architectural decision-making.

“Architecture is the mirror of society. Architectural identity should not be imposed on people and buildings. It is a result of what people “think and do” during a particular period of history influenced by economic, ecologic and cultural variables,” he added.

Engineer Ibrahim Mohamed Jaidah, Qatar’s senior-most architect and CEO, Arab Engineering Bureau, said, “In line with current global architectural trends, Qatar is striving to ensure its unique heritage and culture continue to live, grounding the foundation of the development on the adaptation of micro-climatic techniques with inspiration that attempts to recapture what made the original so special. There are different and interesting things on the horizon in Qatar’s architecture and its quality.”

Dr Alex Amato, Head of Sustainability, QGBC, said: “There are a fascinating range of new buildings contributing to making Qatar a worthy architectural destination, from modern architectural expressionism to the development of a rich synthesis of international standards and traditional values. We would like to ensure adequate efforts and time are invested in urban planning to ensure the required consistency in the process.”

Doha is positioning itself as the ‘must see’ destination for modern architecture enthusiasts as Qatar’s commitment to first-rate internationally-recognised architecture is becoming evident with the inception of iconic projects, including Museum of Islamic Art, Faculty of Islamic Studies in Education City, Msheireb Properties, West Bay Business District and Qatar National Museum.

Engineer Meshal Al Shamari, Director, QGBC, said: “QGBC is working with leading institutions in the public and private sectors to raise awareness of the most pressing sustainability issues facing Qatar.

“The event is another crucial step in educational and awareness efforts undertaken by QGBC on a regular basis. Sustainable architecture is key to element of green buildings and sustainability in Qatar we would like to address in the long-term.”

Source: The Peninsula Qatar

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