Friday, April 24, 2015

Sustainable Doha

Since few years I am travelling to Doha mainly for work. There are many sustainable projects (green building projects) in Qatar. While I worked mainly on LEED projects in Doha, they also have their own sustainability rating system called GSAS/QSAS. But since last year I am visiting Doha for pleasure, while my dear husband works on sustainable projects over there :-).

Souq Waquif
My favorite spot in Doha is Souq Waquif, it is must for me in every trip! This old souq has a different charm. The narrow allies and hidden staircases, cobbled paths, handicraft and souvenir shops and nice restaurants. This place is always full of energy. The recent addition of art galleries, old markets of birds, animals and what not, this all makes it a place cultural and traditional hub of Doha. This time we spent an evening in Souq waqif but also explored rest of Doha, the newly developed places and I came across many sustainable design examples in all of these places.

Toborochi (baobab) Tree, Egyptian goose, Olive tree (clockwise)
Having a constantly running toddler with me, visiting a park was on top of our list. So we visited one of the best park in Doha, Aspire Park. The summer just started in full swing after many cycles of sand storms last few month, so it was considerably hot. But my son was very happy to get such a large open space for himself as compared to staying in a cool hotel room. He ran, showed me many birdies, ran behind them, wanted to wake up slipping ducks in shed to cuddle them and played in a nice play park till his heart was content. Meanwhile I couldn't fell to notice different types of trees planted in the park and different species of birds who made Aspire park their home. Because of this, for older kids visit to this park can be educational too. The lighting in park is solar powered. In Middle East where there are not many natural plantation, these kind of vegetated open spaces are very useful for residents. Though these park consume many gallons of water daily, but the parks are essential to make cities livable for families. Only thing was there were less trees in park so adding some shading element will help to create more shade in park. This park must be great fun to visit on cooler days.

Sustainable deign elements in Katara
Another place which we visited and would like to mention here is Katara cultural village. It is a huge complex placed next to sea and beach and has traditional local architecture consist of many sustainable design features. Many one or two storied traditional house like buildings are connected with narrow lanes. These narrow lanes create wind tunnel effect, which helps to cool down the temperature a bit. All these open public spaces were shaded making it comfortable to walk through this complex. Here people can come together even during the hotter time of the day. There were falaj-like small waterways on both sides of the lane along the buildings, which I think mostly for cooling effect. Generally traditional falaj are used for irrigation purpose. Most of the Qatari cultural authorities have offices in Katara.

There are many upcoming and work in progress projects which are going to make Doha even more livable city. Some of these projects are Rail, Downtown Doha etc. Qatar is developing faster for world cup 2022, but I am happy to see they are giving enough importance to sustainability as well.

Katara cultural village, Pigeon towers 

(Note: visit our Instagram page for photos of trees and birds)

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