New cultural and education centre unveiled next to the Corniche

Published January 17th, 2010 - 08:34 GMT

DOHALAND unveiled the Knowledge Enrichment Centre, a new landmark moored off Doha Corniche that will celebrate and enhance the country’s rich heritage, tradition and culture, and initiate a knowledge-sharing exercise among people in Qatar.
 
The Knowledge Enrichment Centre was officially inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, and Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned at the Groundbreaking Ceremony of the QR20bn Musheireb regeneration project which took place on January 13, 2010.

Through the Knowledge Enrichment Centre, DOHALAND has fulfilled Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned’s wish to create a common platform to share with people the three-year long study and research that has gone behind the creation of a new Qatari architectural language. It is represented through the masterplan of the Musheireb project built on DOHALAND’s five pillars: Heritage, Innovation, Sustainability, Enrichment and Environment.

“Built on a floating platform off the Doha Corniche, the Knowledge Enrichment Centre will serve as a link between Qatar’s rich past and its promising future. DOHALAND has set upon changing the city’s landscape with the new Qatari architectural language. At the same time, it is firm in its commitment to support the people of Qatar to flourish and enrich their experiences, encouraging the new culture of knowledge sharing and exchange. We are working on events and activities to involve people actively at the Knowledge Enrichment Centre which will open to public around March 2010,” said Eng. Issa M. Al Mohannadi, CEO of DOHALAND.

Measuring 91 metres long and 24 metres wide, with a building floor area of 1200m2, the floating Knowledge Enrichment Centre symbolizes both land and sea, the desert life of the Bedouins and the maritime tradition of pearl diving and fishing, which together form the core of Qatari and regional history. The assimilation of the modern and traditional within this structure will serve to bridge the gap that has emerged between modern Doha and its not so distant past.

“A long-term endowment to people, the Knowledge Enrichment Centre is representative of DOHALAND’s pillars and personifies DOHALAND’s CSR Flourish initiatives. It evokes the past, being built on a ship, recalling how everything evolved from the sea, learning from the past as DOHALAND does. It is innovative in its design, yet clearly inspired by our Qatari heritage, and is built to enrich the lives of the people of Qatar. It will become a meeting point for all Qatari families who will be proud to see their city return to its roots,” said Eng. Issa M. Al Mohannadi, CEO of DOHALAND.


Design

The design draws from the maritime history of Qatar and the city of Doha when trade, fishing and pearl diving were the cornerstones of regional economy. The floating Knowledge Enrichment Centre connects this rich tradition with a futuristic vision of a knowledge-based, culturally conscious Doha, thus paying homage to a glorious past as well as paving the way for a promising tomorrow.

Various features and characteristic of traditional Qatari homes have found their way into the design of this floating landmark. Many of the ceilings, panels, doors, shutters and some of the furniture are adorned with calligraphy, inscriptions, patterns and carvings inspired by the rich culture and artistic history of the region.

Traditional Qatari design methods have been used to ventilate and light the internal spaces, and many of these features are being incorporated into the design of
Musheireb to provide shade, privacy and community interaction.

Measuring 91 metres long and 24 metres wide, the Knowledge Enrichment Centre has been designed by international architects Allies and Morrison, who are also involved with the Musheireb master plan and are designing some of the buildings in Phase One.

Simon Gathercole, head of Allies and Morrison’s Doha office, says the Knowledge Enrichment Centre possesses a “sophisticated simplicity”. “The hull is made from steel, but  building uses natural materials such as timber and stone. It chimes with a simplicity and modesty that is synonymous with Qatari architecture, and maintains an earthy feel with carpets, canvases and fabrics used throughout. The structure is simple and solid. But in some areas it has architectural components that are elaborate and ornate,” describes Gathercole.


“For instance, the Majlis is decorated by patterns influenced by the elaborate and beautiful configurations found in the mud flats within Qatar’s mangroves. In the barahat you will find some carvings and patterns that can be seen in the 2,000 year-old rock carvings in Jabal Al Jassasiya, located to the northeast of Doha.”  


Features

Various characteristics of traditional Qatari homes are reinvented within the Knowledge Enrichment Centre. The entry portal of the Knowledge Enrichment Centre is reminiscent of the dwellings of the nation’s ancestors:

The Baraha  - The section which evokes the character of a small square between buildings a ‘baraha’ (an informal entry courtyard), embodies some of the qualities that will be seen in the Musheireb project - Informality, harmony and an emphasis on a pleasant, walkable environment. This, combined with robust contemporary design that will engage a lasting connection to Qatari tradition, is what DOHALAND aims to achieve in Musheireb.

Malkaf - The Baraha features Light, Air and Water through the fountain and a split wall feature, the Malkaf. It is a reminder of the Qatari reputation for hospitality by representing the tradition of offering water to visitors.

VIP Majlis - A special Majlis for distinguished guests, with a view across the bay from its balcony, fuses traditional and contemporary design, and opens onto the exhibition galleries and terrace. A pattern inspired by an early artwork at Al Jassasiya rock carving with depictions of what appear to be traditional fishing boats or dhows, is used to enrich the ceiling and table tops of the Majlis.

The Terrace provides the perfect space to enjoy some fresh air, providing views of the city from the comfort of a shaded deck.

Exhibition Galleries will display and showcase a range of artefacts and architectural information charting the history of Qatari architecture, design and building techniques.

To mark the launch of the Knowledge Enrichment Centre, an exhibition ‘A Blueprint for the Future’, will be open pertaining to Doha’s built environment from the past, through the present and looking to the future.

The exhibition is presented in three sections ‘Qatar – The Past’, ‘Doha – The Evolving City’, and ‘The Musheireb Project’. Through the pictures and artefacts, the exhibition surveys the influences on Qatar’s architecture, design and building techniques, paying homage to a glorious past and paving the way for a promising tomorrow.

“We have attempted to recapture elements of traditional Qatari architecture here, just as we have incorporated it in the Musheireb development, always blending them with other elements of modernity, sustainability and attention to the communities and people who will live there,” said Eng. Issa M. Al Mohannadi.


Function

DOHALAND’s Knowledge Enrichment Centre will provide the community an avenue to learn and enhance their experiences with thematic workshops and conferences, cultural events and a gallery space with exhibits that focus on the Qatari heritage, along with a series of ongoing activities that will involve and engage the community actively.

“This landmark is a small step towards rediscovering our traditions and customs, and creating a new aesthetic that will define our city going forward. It is not just the architectural traditions; we also want to reconnect with the spirit of the past with its emphasis on community, hospitality and belonging. This will establish our Qatari identity and allow us to be proud of a city that is truly ours,” added Eng. Issa M. Al Mohannadi.

Visitors will also gain an insight into DOHALAND’s vision for its signature project Musheireb, located in Inner Doha, close to the historic origins of Qatar’s capital city.  DOHALAND is regenerating a 35 hectare site that will reflect Qatar’s rich heritage, traditions and culture in its design and architecture, while embracing new technologies.

The Knowledge Enrichment Centre recreates a sense of the home by incorporating many designs and features that can are found in traditional Qatari dwellings, as also in the Musheireb project.


Location

DOHALAND chose to build a floating structure so that it could be moored off the Doha Corniche, acting as a bridge between the new structures in West Bay and Doha’s old city centre, while symbolising the land and the sea - two central themes in Doha’s history that have helped the city become an important port and trading centre.

Since Corniche is a popular location among local families and expatriates to meet and socialise, it was felt appropriate to moor the Knowledge Enrichment Centre at this location. 
Eng. Issa M. Al Mohannadi comments that it was important for the DOHALAND Knowledge Enrichment Centre ‘to become a place where the people of Doha can meet, interact and socialise regardless of their age or whether they are a resident or tourist’.
“The DOHALAND Knowledge Enrichment Centre will be a wonderful and inspiring place to visit regularly as there will be new events and exhibitions to enjoy. There will also be focus on how Qatari families can reconnect to their city centre. The floating Amaar will ensure that Qatari culture and heritage, and its influence on architecture, will not drift away and be forgotten,” said Eng. Issa M. Al Mohannadi.
The Knowledge Enrichment Centre will further DOHALAND’s mission to create leading edge urban living concepts that build on traditional Qatari architecture and design, and contribute to the social and cultural heritage of Doha.


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