Nouvel’s mashrabiyya in Doha

After my first week in Doha I celebrated a birthday at the pyramidal Sheraton Hotel
From the hotel terrace at the end of the corniche, the West Bay of Doha was a sea of cranes
Manhattan in the making


The current towers were innocuous; now and then an architect had convinced his client or a client had convinced his architect, to construct something extravagant
Usually a pair of towers either: glazed with gold, with a large sphere between them, or towering above their neighbours topped with self-concious butterfly roofs, as was the fashion over ten years ago
All quite prosaic

Despite Qatar’s determination to build a country based on more than the glitz and glamour of Dubai, at that moment there was nothing architecturally to show for it
There was no pearl in Doha’s corniche


Jean Nouvel’s tower will change this; in construction and due, March 2010
Though I scratch my head looking at the unsustainable construction of glass skinned towers in the Gulf
When then there’s no more LPG there’s no more air conditioning
The glass towers become glass greenhouses; the tallest in the world



Nouvel’s tower reduces a reliance on air conditioning, using a traditional mashrabiyya skin to provide shade and context
Three layers of modular geometric shapes form a traditional Islamic pattern and conveniently shade the interior
Far better than the nearby affected Tornado Tower or elegant Navigation Tower who’s unprotected glazing has nothing to stop the fierce Qatari sun
At times, nice shapes but not they’re not clever buildings


Nouvel’s Institute du Monde Arabe in Paris is a more inventive precursor
The arabesque has an abstract quality and ability to mechanically open and close according to the intensity of the sunlight

Although it lacks the dynamic mechanical dimension of the Institute du Monde Arabe this new tower is a welcome addition to Doha’s skyline.

photography and text by Tim Harris



This entry was published on June 15, 2017 at 6:30 pm. It’s filed under Architect, Architecture, Qatar and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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