WATCH: Qatar Living - 5 of Doha's most iconic buildings
You may have gotten used to it if you’ve lived here a while, but any newcomer riding along Doha’s Corniche for the first time is thrilled at the sight of downtown Doha’s skyline marking the horizon.
Qatar has more than a few breathtaking examples of avant-garde, award-winning architecture, and we’ve highlighted five of the most iconic examples in Doha today.
5. Doha Tower
Also known as Burj Doha, this pickle-shaped, high rise tower is located in Doha’s West Bay. The tower’s height is 232 meters, rising 46 floors above ground, with 3 floors below ground and a total floor area of approximately 110,000 m².
Designed by French architect Jean Nouvelle, Doha Tower’s unique shape and patterning draws the eye immediately. The Islamic-style screens that cover the outside were designed to shade the building from the heat as well as the sand residue that tends to form on glass throughout the desert regions of the Gulf. The design connects to the local culture, bridging modern architecture with ancient Islamic designs (Mashrabiya).
The $125 million office building is designed to hold offices operating in West Bay, which is a well-known business district in the country.
Doha Tower received the CTBUH Skyscraper Award for the Best Tall Building Worldwide from the CTBUH on October 18th, 2012.
4. Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel
This distinctly pyramid-shaped luxury hotel, run by the Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, is something of a landmark in Qatar. Overlooking the sea in West Bay area of Doha, this was the first five-star hotel to be built in the country.
Established in the Sheraton covers an area of about 10,000 square meters, and reportedly cost around $100 million to build. It is part of the conference facility for the Organization of Arab States.
The Sheraton Doha has 371 rooms, 9 restaurants and 26 conference rooms, and has been described as having "a world of Arabian luxury and magical ambience”.
The hotel has been used as a conference centre for numerous prestigious events and meetings, including those of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
3. Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies (QFIS)
In 2015, this eye-catching university building won for best architectural design in the cultural architecture section at the World Architecture Festival (WAF).
This modern but spiritual building’s design is based on the idea of the Islamic “Kulliyya”, the ‘place where all knowledge is sought’
The building’s scheme fittingly suggests knowledge and faith are interwoven but that all knowledge ultimately comes from faith. This connection is expressed in the infinite spiral of the building plan.
The building’s design uses the build-up of light to lead students and visitors from classrooms and learning spaces to the main hall and mosque area, playing on the metaphor of ‘knowledge and light’, where the journey from the university to the mosque is also a journey towards light.
2. The Museum of Islamic Art
The Museum of Islamic Art, situated near Doha Port along the city’s corniche is hard to miss. Influenced by ancient Islamic architecture, involving geometric patterns, the museum is an excellent example of the fusion of ancient and modern architecture. It is the first of its kind to feature over 14 centuries of Islamic art in the Arab States of the Persian Gulf.
Covering a total area of 45,000 m2, the museum was officially opened on November 22nd, 2008 by HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
I. M. Pei, the then 91-year-old architect (he’s 100 years old now), had to be coaxed out of retirement to undertake this enterprise. He traveled throughout the Muslim world on a six-month quest to learn about Muslim architecture and history and read Muslim texts to draw inspiration for his design. According to Pei, the light fountain in 9th century Ibn Tulun Mosque of Cairo was the inspiration.
Declining all proposed sites for the museum, he suggested a stand-alone island for the structure in order to avoid encroachments by other buildings in the future. It was built off an artificial peninsula, approximately 60m off the Doha Corniche and surrounded by a some-what crescent shaped 290,000 m2 park.
Pei requested that the museum spaces be designed by his collaborator on the Louvre project, Wilmotte & Associates.
The main building consists of the five floors, the main dome, and the central tower. It is connected with the education ward via a large central court. Pei utilized creamy limestone for the outer facades to emphasize the various shades during the different times of the day. The five floors are covered by a glass facade to the north, and it provides a panoramic view of the Persian Gulf.
The interior of the building is decorated by several Islamic arts, and the large metallic chandelier hung over the main staircase of the lobby. Many elements found in Ibn Tulun Mosque are represented in the building as an abstract form. This enables the agreement with values and principles of the postmodern architecture historical trend which synchronize the modernity and the historical Islamic architectural identity.
1. Aspire Tower (The Torch Doha)
Also known as The Torch Doha, this 300-metre-tall (980 ft) hotel is located in the Aspire Zone complex in Doha. As the tallest tower in Doha, and a stand-alone skyscraper, this structure is pretty unmistakeable.
Designed by architect Hadi Simaan and AREP and engineer Ove Arup and Partners, the tower was the focal point for the 15th Asian Games hosted by Qatar in December 2006.
The tower is currently the tallest structure and building in Doha and Qatar, but it will be surpassed by the Dubai Towers Doha, and the Barwa Tower when either project is completed. The tower has also been known as Khalifa Sports Tower or Doha Olympic Tower.
The tower was a landmark of the 2006 Asian Games due to its size and proximity to the main venue, the Khalifa International Stadium.
The Torch was completed in November 2007 at a final cost of at more than $165 million.
Cover image - Mohammed Zuber Shaikh/QL Flickr Group; inline image 1 - designboom.com, 2 - Sheraton Doha Resort & Convention Hotel, 3 - architectural-review.com, 4 - islamic-arts.org, 5 - marco ferrarin/Flickr.