Msheireb Properties’ involvement in the 2012 edition of Marché International des Professionnels d'Immobilier (MIPIM), the world’s largest real estate exhibition, held annually in Cannes, has been described as a resounding success by organisers, exhibitors and visitors alike.
For the first time in the event’s history, MIPIM staged a national pavilion for Qatar as well as a groundbreaking thought leadership event, the two-day Qatar Urban Forum. Only London, Paris and Germany have hosted similar pavilions at MIPIM.
The venue was a showcase for Qatar’s pioneering investment in urban planning, which combines traditional methods and modern technology aimed at safeguarding both the environment and cultural identity.
The US$5.5 billion Msheireb Downtown Doha, Msheireb Properties’ signature project involving the sustainable regeneration of the old commercial centre of the Qatari capital, received special attention from the pavilion’s 5000 visitors during the four days of MIPIM.
Eng. Issa Al Mohannadi, CEO of Msheireb Properties, said: “Msheireb Properties returned to MIPIM in a major way but our involvement this year was distinguished as much by the quality of our ideas as it was by the scale of our developments. We are proud to have partnered with leading developers in the country to promote Qatar’s progressive vision and focus on sustainable urban planning.
Visitors to MIPIM in 2012 were hugely impressed by the imagination and synergies of Qatar’s world-class development companies, as well as the depth of the insights shared by the global industry speakers participating in the first-ever Qatar Urban Forum. Realising sustainable urban development is one of the key challenges facing present and future generations, and Msheireb Properties is showing through initiatives like the pavilion and forum that it has a leading role to play in addressing this challenge.”
Titled ‘Sustainable Architecture and Urban Development’, the Qatar Urban Forum examined two issues at the heart of progressive urban planning – realising sustainability and the green agenda, and retaining cultural, heritage and national identity in the context of rapid globalisation and modernisation.
The stimulating thought leadership event was the setting for two keynote presentations and four panel debates with more than a dozen internationally renowned architects, designers and urban innovators.
Lord Richard Rogers, the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, best known for pioneering buildings such as the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the headquarters of Lloyd’s of London, opened the forum on the first day of MIPIM with a presentation titled ‘Sustainability, Energy and Green Development’, which explored the themes of many of his award-winning designs.
The recipient of the RIBA Gold Medal in 2005, Lord Rogers noted that Qatar had become a genuine world leader in sustainable building.
“The most important thing of my lifetime has been the recognition of the importance of the environment,” he said, stressing that the human element needed to be brought back into architecture. Adopting sustainable approaches in urban design was one way to achieve that, he said.
Following the keynote, leading architects and urban designers Professor Massimiliano Fuksas, Emilio Embasz, Emmanuel Blamont and Patrick Bellew considered the definitions of sustainability and a roadmap for implementing a sustainable vision for urban planning.
Professor Fuksas, an Italian architect and visiting professor at the École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris, and Columbia University in New York, called for a complete overhaul of attitudes towards the urban environment.
“To have a better life we have to change the system. Sixty per cent of people live in cities – we need a new concept of the city in order to live with less waste of land, energy and water...The world today doesn’t need architects, it needs humanism.”
Technological innovation was seen as key to managing the environmental impacts of our expanding cityscapes in the second panel debate on day one, which welcomed the insights of Ken Yeang, inventor of the ‘bio-climate’ skyscraper, Bill Dunster, environmental strategist and founder of ZEDfactory, and Yousef Al Horr, founder and chairman of Gulf Organisation for Research and Development, one of Qatar’s leading national institutes.
Commenting on the success of the Qatar Sustainability Assessment System (QSAS), an original green building code developed in Qatar, Yousef Al Horr argued that effective regulation was needed to better integrate respect for the environment in urban design.
“Since we started implementing the QSAS in Qatar, more and more projects have adopted sustainability.”
Ken Yeang, meanwhile, stressed the importance of education: "I believe that within 10 years green design will become second nature for students."
Angela Brady, President of the Royal Institute of British Architects and a director at Brady Mallalieu Architects in London, began day two of the Qatar Urban Forum with a keynote presentation on the central role played by history, culture and the environment in shaping urban landscapes.
“What makes good cities is the richness of their culture and the diversity of their people,” she said, adding that recognising “the historic environment in contributing to quality of life” was essential to ensure that our cities remain attractive places in which to live.
Will Aslop, Beatrice Gallilee, Mike Jenks and Emmanuel Blamont shared a spectrum of views on the relationship between urban planning and cultural identity, in a debate titled ‘Bringing Identity Back: The Impact of Globalisation and Regionalism on the Art of Place Making in Cities’.
British architect Will Alsop said modern cities were suffering from an “identity crisis” and called for planners to use history and culture as a source of inspiration: “to move forward, we have to study the past.”
The final and fourth session of the inaugural Qatar Urban Forum examined people’s emotional attachments to cities on the theme ‘A City I Love: Ownership, Character and the Evolution of Cities’.
Participating in the debate were George Kunhirio, Professor of Architecture at Kokushikan University, Tokyo; Attilio Petruccioli, Professor of Landscape Architecture and head of the Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Bari; John Letherland, developer of design frameworks for the regeneration of districts in London’s East End; and Tim Makower, the UK architect behind the Amiri Diwan Quarter in Doha.
Reflecting on the success of the forum, Eng. Issa M. Al Mohannadi of Msheireb Properties, said: “The Qatar Urban Forum gave equal priority to solutions as well as concepts, and as a result will have made a very practical contribution to the work of many people in our industry. The first-ever Qatar Forum received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from participants and guests and will provide a template for future, more ambitious forums in Qatar and at other international industry events.”
Msheireb Properties is a real estate company and subsidiary of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. A commercial enterprise that supports the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the Foundation’s aims, Msheireb Properties has a mission to change the way people think about urban living, through innovations that encourage social interaction, respect for culture and greater care for the environment.
Its signature project, Msheireb Downtown Doha, will have the highest concentration of LEED-certified buildings in a single community anywhere in the world, underling the company’s sustainability credentials.