Friday, October 5, 2007

Architecture in Doha

There is building going on everywhere in Doha - skyscrapers along the bay for offices and housing, 2-3 story residential compounds (walled multi-family villas), private compounds (also enclosed by walls, but here the walls have a dual function: keeping out the rif-raff and women need not wear the abaya, shayla, and niqab when within the walls of their compound), shopping malls, government buildings, etc. As a result there are also construction vehicles (cement trucks, etc) everywhere and lots of road construction - I'll talk more about driving in Doha in a later posting.

You've already seen pictures of my villa and compound and the VCUQ building where I teach. Those are some of the more modest building types in Doha. The VCUQ building, for example, contains many design elements that are characteristic of traditional architecture in this area. The skyscrapers however belong to another genre with each trying to top the last design-wise. For example, there are tall twin zig-zag buildings and a tower that twists is under construction. Monumental often seems to be the objective as well as designing a building that no one else has ever built. There is also an ongoing challenge to traditional structural engineering. And, of course, the architects love it - they are receiving once-in-a-lifetime commissions to create the building that will seal their place in architectural history.

As examples of this monumental trend in architecture, I am posting a rendering of the proposed National Library of Doha and some new buildings that Rem Koolhaas has designed for the Qatar Foundation at Education City, where VCUQ is. I'll also post a much more traditional example of architecture - and, in my opinion, one of the more compelling sites in Doha: the Islamic Center, as well as a good example of a follie: the Dinosaur Majilis! And later, when I get a chance, I'll take pictures of the Isozaki's building at Education City, I.M. Pei's museum that is topped by eyes looking through a niqab (kind of eerie), and others.


Sue said...


I just read your two most recent posts, and I love hearing about your exotic teaching environment! I taught a number of young Saudi men a few years back when they were coming to the US in large numbers, but I think it would be far more interesting to encounter young women.

Keep the great posts and pictures coming! Thanks so much.


Carolyn said...

Update: I just heard that the design for the new Qatar National Library has been ditched. I think that was a wise decision.