UK and Qatar build international links through architecture with The Old Doha Prize

UK Winners of Qatar architecture and urban design charette announced

Alicja Borkowska and Iris Papadatou from you&me architects have been announced as the UK winners of the first Old Doha Prize, an architectural competition to redesign part of the old city of Doha in Qatar. The winning team, which also included two local architects, was announced following a week long charette which saw promising young British architects and urban designers collaborate with their Qatari counterparts to reimagine the urban landscape of old Doha.

 The competition bought together four teams of architects who worked intensively to develop contextual design responses to address the challenge of regenerating and maintaining the heritage of the city. Both the British and Qatari participants explored Doha’s architectural history and the city’s ambitious plans for the future, sharing skills and their vision for heritage based architecture. As well as site visits to specific neighborhoods in Old Doha, including special access to key heritage buildings, participants also attended lectures, seminars and dinners with leading local academics, conservationists and planning experts. Together, the Qatari and British architects worked to produce designs to regenerate this piece of the old city centre in a vibrant and sustainable way, learning from the historic street pattern and buildings, whilst incorporating elements of contemporary Qatari design.

The Old Doha Prize has been organised by the British Council and Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) as part of Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture, in association with the Doha Architecture Centre, Msheireb Properties, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London.

The winners received a grant of £15,000 to allow the architects to further develop their research and ideas explored as part of the Old Doha Prize design residency. Winning Qatari participants will also be given the opportunity to visit the London Festival of Architecture in the UK in June 2014.

The winning team commented: “We are very pleased to have won and honoured to be a part of the Old Doha Prize. It’s been an intense week but also a fun and very worthwhile experience – we’ve learnt a lot. It’s also exciting to know that we’ve contributed something new and significant to the story of this area and to the city of Doha. We’ve also made real and lasting professional connections between the UK and Qatar and we’re very much looking forward to continuing to work with our teammates on research and future projects.  Thank you to all parties involved; truly amazing!”

Martin Hope, Director for the British Council Qatar said: “Since its inception the Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture has worked hard on highlighting and forging existing and new relationships between Qatar and the United Kingdom. By bringing together practicing architects from two different countries, the Old Doha Prize has given people from both cultures the opportunity to share experiences and knowledge through collaboration. This captures a primary objective of the Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture – to create bonds between professionals from the UK and Qatar which last longer than participation in a one-week residency, and beyond the Year of Culture.  We have seen wonderful work from all the participants and we say congratulations to the winning team and all those that took part in the Old Doha Prize.”

Aisha Ghanem Al Attiya, spokesperson for Qatar UK 2013 said: “First of all we’d like to congratulate the winning team and everyone for participating in the competition. This competition provides the opportunity for architects from both nations to collaborate on a project which signifies the country’s culture and heritage.  Doha is a rapidly growing city and the Old Doha Prize brings together different cultures, perspectives, and concepts with one intention in mind: to redesign Old Doha.”

Tim Makower, Chair of Judges for the Old Doha Prize and principal of Makower Architects in Doha and London said: “We have seen inspirational work from the participants throughout the week demonstrating that the Old Doha Prize has achived its two main objectives.  Firstly collaboration – the sharing of knowledge, skills and insights between UK and Qatari designers. The inclusive and apparently seamless team-work was extraordinary, especially considering that the teams met for the first time less than a week ago. Secondly, the project is provoking debate and raising awareness about the cultural, urbanistic and economic potential of the run-down areas of Old Doha. Although the teams are thinking in excitingly diverse ways about the project, there is a clear consensus that this area holds some of the essence of Qatar’s cultural identity and that as such, it has real value for future generations.”

Celebrating the long-standing relationship between the two countries, Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture aims to forge new and support existing partnerships in the arts, education, sport and science sectors, while promoting awareness and appreciation of each country’s culture, achievements and heritage. The Year is coordinated by Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) and the British Council with the support of the Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage and Katara Cultural Village along with Platinum Sponsors Qatargas, Qatar Shell and Vodafone Qatar.