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Traditional Qatari Architecture Saves on A/C

If, like me, you have any interest in traditional Gulf architecture, and in understanding what works in Gulf countries – and what doesn’t – I urge you to visit a wonderful resource, John Lockerbie’s blog on a variety of things including Islamic design. Clicking on the blue type will take you to a menu with so many items you can get lost for hours. I discovered it one day when I needed information to help me identify the traditional boats, which I love. John’s blog has been a constant resource for me when I have questions about the things I see. . .

Traditional Qatari buildings save on air-conditioning
Web posted at: 3/2/2010 6:26:27
Source ::: The Peninsula

Doha: Buildings and places need to be designed and developed in a sustainable way to allow communities to be less reliant on air conditioning and cars. Sustainable design can lead to cost and energy efficiencies, enhanced lifestyles and a reduced impact on climate change.

This is the view of Tim Makower, partner at Doha-based architects Allies and Morrison, who will be presenting his thoughts and ideas at the Sustainability and the Built Environment Seminar tomorrow, which has been organised by the UK Trade & Invest section of the British Embassy in Doha.

“Air conditioning is not the only way to cool a building, especially in the more temperate months of the year. The Gulf faces extremely hot weather for three, arguably five, months of the year and during this time air conditioning is essential, but for the rest of the year, the weather is very pleasant and architects, engineers and developers should explore alternative ways to cool buildings during these months,” said Makower.

Allies and Morrison opened an office in Doha in summer 2009 and over the last three years has helped to develop the ‘Architectural Guidelines’ for the Dohaland’s 35 hectare development Musheireb, (formerly Heart of Doha).

It is also designing the Diwan Annexe and the National Archive buildings within the first development phase of Musheireb. Both buildings will be two of the first LEED Platinum buildings in Qatar.

Makower said far more air conditioning is used than necessary. He believes that by reducing the reliance on air conditioning there would be some clear benefits, including cost savings and being more eco-friendly due to lower energy consumption.

“We need to design places and buildings that allow people to respond to the climate and live in more harmony with the seasons. For instance, people should be provided with the choice to switch off their air conditioning and open a window during the winter months; for many people that is the most comfortable way to live,” Makower said.

“What could be better than being given greater choice, greater comfort and cost savings all in one go? We are designing homes and work places now which can be dramatically opened up on to external courtyards and balconies in good weather.”

Makower said this flexibility should also extend to the use of the car. He passionately believes that places should be designed to be pedestrian-friendly and that streets should be naturally cooled so that people can choose to walk to schools, shops, the mosque or to work during the cooler months, instead of having to use their cars and face traffic congestion.

“I don’t question the right to use air conditioning or a car, but I believe that we should design places and buildings that give people the choice to switch off their air-conditioning and leave their car in the garage,” he said. During his presentation, Makower will explain how using inventive solutions, which are often founded in traditional Qatari methods and building techniques, can naturally cool buildings.

For instance, buildings can be cooled by incorporating wind-catchers or using thick walls. They can also be positioned to capture the prevailing winds and sea breezes and be related to the sun’s path to create optimum shade.

This can be supported by architectural features such as projecting cornices, canopies, colonnades and screens, all of them traditional Qatari motifs. Re-introducing the traditional form of the narrow lane, or Sikkat, is another way to create shaded spaces with modern buildings.

“Over and above energy related issues, sustainability is about minimising waste and creating lasting places. Buildings and neighbourhoods should be built to last, while still allowing for the natural process of gradual change and regeneration rather than wholesale demolition. It is Dohaland’s intention to retain and maintain the Musheireb in the long term, and to ensure that it is built to last.”

The Sustainability and the Built Environment Seminar will be held at 8.30am on March 3 at the Diplomatic Club in Doha.

March 3, 2010 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Blogging, Blogroll, Community, Cross Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Technical Issue | Leave a comment

Qatar Initiates Solar Energy Plan

Woooo HOOOO, Qatar, for not depending on a non-renewable energy source, but continuing to develop strategies for survival into the future. And Qatar definitely has an abundance of solar power. But then again – so does Kuwait.

Qatar to tap solar power in a big way
Web posted at: 3/2/2010 6:29:33

DOHA: Qatar is all set to tap its abundance of solar power. Two leading international agencies yesterday announced their decision to partner with two Qatari entities to produce the green energy in the country.

SolarWorld AG, one of the world’s largest solar companies, will partner with Qatar Solar Technology (QST), in which Qatar Foundation (QF) has a major stake. Separately, the Institute of Technical Thermodynamics, German Aerospace Centre (DLR), will partner with the country’s ambitious Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP).

Qatar Solar Technology marks the entry of QF into the solar energy sector. QF will have a 70 percent stake in QST, with SolarWorld holding 29 percent and Qatar Development Bank the remaining one percent.

The initial investment in QST is valued at over $500m, QF said.

Through the joint venture, solar grade polysilicon, the essential ingredient of solar panels, would be produced in the first phase.

QST will develop a new plant in Ras Laffan Industrial City, in the northeast of Qatar, which will be one of the first operational polysilicon plants in the region. The plant will produce well over 3,500 tonnes per annum of the material and will be designed with future expansion in mind, which will enable it to significantly increase production capacity.

You can read the rest of the article, including contributions by Texas A&M, by clicking HERE

March 3, 2010 Posted by | Community, Doha, ExPat Life, Experiment, Financial Issues, Kuwait, Leadership, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Qatar | 10 Comments