Qatar favours modernity over tradition in design

Qatar with the advent of oil exploration, production and export has earned enough finance to allow it like all other states of the GCC to commit to large developments mainly residential, institutional buildings and all related infrastructure.

It has drastically changed from a small desert peninsula inhabited by fishermen surviving on pearl diving and fishing in the Persian Gulf Sea and living off the occasional farming of the modestly available arable lands.

The country was not only an easy and good purveyor of lucrative contracts for European, mainly British companies but also of numerous jobs for expatriate workers from South East Asia.  Consultants and contractors alike multiplied and for most grew with the country.

The works erected were generally small, non-contextual in their majority and at first fairly utilitarian in nature.  These acquired relative sophistication over time and as it were on the go.  The country in so doing accumulated a rich patrimony of rich, varied and elaborate structures of discrete cultural appreciation.

Nowadays, it is widely felt that it is becoming a laboratory for modernistic architectural experimentation perhaps at the expense of the local and regional traditional design.  A recent conference in the country on the subject has been told.  It is to be noted that the referred to traditional design is rather of a vernacular nature than anything else.

Qatar Foundation Student Centre in Education City seminar on the theme ‘Can sustainable experimental architecture with respect for cultural heritage exist?’ was aimed at appraising Doha’s current transformation.

Discussions as to how best to keep Qatar’s culture, traditions and values alive when planning major architectural projects were the object of reflexion by the invited architects and sustainability experts.  These agreed that identifying a cohesive, balanced approach to urban planning is of prime importance when keeping up with the changing face of global architectural trends and is best to be advised.

Dr Yasser Mahgoub, of the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, College of Engineering of Qatar University, said: “Qatar is becoming a ‘laboratory’ for architectural experiments that lack (any) 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.”

Source – designMENA



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