Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Msheireb – Heart of Doha in Qatar by AECOM
October 7th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: AECOM
Headed by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah, the aim of the Msheireb project is to create a modern Qatari homeland that is rooted in traditions and to renew a piece of city where global cultures meet but not melt. The scope of the project is to rejuvenate a 31 hectare site within the heart of the city.
During 2006, the concept masterplan was established and the detailed masterplan, alongside the Sustainable Design Guidelines was published in 2008. The project has entered implementation and construction phase since 2010.
The Msheireb site is located in Inner Doha, less than 0.5 km away from Doha Bay. It forms part of a strategic gateway for the city from the West, lying between two key routes into the city, namely Al Rayyan Road and Msheireb Street, which extends through the oldest part of Doha and onto the existing and proposed future airport. Most significantly, the site sits immediately adjacent to the Emiri Diwan, the historic Al Koot fort and a newly rejuvenated Souk Waqif.
Reflecting the core values of heritage and culture, innovation, sustainability, enrichment and environment, Msheireb Properties aims to create a piece of city infrastructure that is suitable for the local climate and respects Qatari traditions. Backed by profit-driven developers, most recent projects in the region continue to reinforce the footprint of alien built form with little scope in furthering local culture and traditions. The Msheireb project delves deep into the local history and morphological imprints to find the social meaning and values embedded in the local fabric. After decades of car-driven urban expansion, the project bucks the trend by putting people first, cars second by introducing a whole new public realm network. The Msheireb project demonstrates that there is a strong desire for outdoor activities and an alternative to the air-conditioned and energy-hungry entertainment boxes ubiquitous in the region.
The Msheireb Masterplan seeks to modulate between traditions and modernity, east and west. Fundamental to the Msheireb Masterplan is the concept of the grid and the lattice. Designed to evoke memories, the lattice captures the incidental qualities of the fereej, or community. These sikkat (laneways) are an important reminder of the simplicity and enjoyment of walking within the city. The grid, on the other hand, symbolises the paradigm of Western cities. The Msheireb masterplan grid draws references from the historic street pattern that connects well with the wider existing city fabric. Together, the grid and the lattice form the bedrock of the masterplan that provide continuity between the past and future.
The Msheireb Masterplan represents a pivotal moment for urban planning and architecture in the region. It provokes debates about the apparent stagnation in the field of urbanism and architecture in the Middle East. In an age of hasty urban expansion, the Msheireb project promises cultural continuity – one that is not displaced and supplanted by imported values but evolved from its own history and context. The Msheireb Masterplan marks the beginning of a design discourse that brings poetry and the art of city-making to the fore over recent technocratic responses to the sustainability challenge.
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