Facilitating the Unlimited Doha Design Prize

Allies and Morrison were delighted to participate last month in an exciting cross-cultural collaboration between the UK and the Gulf states. Organised by the British Council in partnership with the Supreme Council for Delivery and Legacy, Partner Simon Gathercole recently served as lead facilitator for the Unlimited Doha Design Prize, an initiative that brings together young architectural talent to generate new ideas. Under the title ‘the Open City’, the 2016 programme explored themes of mobility and movement, space and accessibility in emerging Middle Eastern cities with Doha as their laboratory.

Organised into four teams, five finalists from Qatar and six from other Gulf states joined ten from the UK to research the Al Doha Al Jadeeda quarter and the area around Al Ghanem Street. Working on site, the teams developed proposals to improve the public realm in this densely populated inner section of the Qatari capital. The winning proposal, by Alex Scott-Whitby and Ming Teong (UK), Omer Can Aksoy, Gizen Kahraman and Deena Al Terawi (Qatar), was entitled ‘City of Play’. Their vision imagined a neighbourhood that put children, education and family life at the heart of daily life in a compact city. A prize has been awarded that will help to advance the project.

As facilitator, Simon guided the participants through charrettes, workshops and study tours of the city. The group spent time in the Mshiereb Downtown Doha site, where Allies and Morrison has had a dual role: in helping to set sitewide design guidelines at the masterplan level and as architect of a number of individual buildings. The group learned from Mshiereb’s culturally-rooted approach to contemporary architecture, experiencing the recently completed Diwan Amiri Quarter. They visited buildings designed by the practice such as the Qatar National Archive, Eid Prayer Ground, Cooling Tower and Mshiereb phase 2 office buildings (under construction now) as well as the heritage museums and mosque by John McAslan + Partners.

‘The residency shed light on the need to address issues of public realm and inclusion in order to stitch together the gaps between the megaprojects that currently dominate the city’, said Simon, ‘I was energised by the enthusiasm and insight that the young designers brought to this challenge.’


For more information on the Unlimited Doha Design Prize, visit the British Council’s website.
Image 2 courtesy participant Will Sandy: @WillSandyDesign