Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

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

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