「Accelerated – Large Infrastructure Viability Experiments」
Tutors: Bruno Peeters, Frank Theyssen
Academic year 2020-21, semester 2, Ghent
Engagement: Urban Cultures
Following the award of the 2022 FIFA world cup games in 2010, Qatar embarked on an ambitious infrastructural program. The Doha metropolitan region recently saw the completion of three Metro lines, (Red, Green and Gold) and 37 stations, serving the capital and its suburbs. Future phases include the introduction of a fourth line (Blue) and the extension of the network beyond the Doha metropolitan area, including over 60 additional stations.
Qatar, a British protectorate until 1971, derives basically all its income from its extensive gas reserves exported as Liquid Natural Gas (LNG). In 2019 Qatar`s GDP per person became the highest in the world.
The past three decades the country experienced a sustained and rapid development, resulting in a massive construction boom and urban expansion. Over 96% of Qatar`s +2.8 million inhabitants now live in urban areas and traditional (Bedouin) living has almost entirely disappeared.
Qatar`s economic boom could only be realized by attracting large numbers of expatriates and workers, now making up over 90% of the total population.
In the Doha Capital region metro lines run underground, in suburban areas an elevated track system is used.
Large income differences between Qataris and expat white collar staff, in stark contrast to low-wage laborers from developing countries, usually housed in labor-camps, make for a very stratified society.
Following independence, a team of planners led by the British company Llewelyn Davies developed the country`s first Structure Plan. A typical product of its time, exclusive zoning and focus on traffic engineering set the foundations for an entirely car oriented sprawling suburban development, continued to this day.
Qatar`s harsh climatic conditions, with temperatures soaring over 45 degrees Celsius in summer make the car the preferred choice of transport even for walkable distances. Door-to-door private car mobility offers unrestricted (climatized) access anywhere-anytime via an extensive and high-capacity road network. Development of alternative (public) transport thus faces major challenges competing with all the conveniences of the (private) car.
Specifically feeding commuters into the (Metro) transport network, and intermodal exchange between public transport modes and private car proves difficult.
Anticipating the extension of the `Red` Metro line up to Qatar`s second city of Al Khor, students will develop actual urban-architectural detailed proposals for Al Khor`s Metro station (nr. 130) and Transit Oriented Design (TOD) pilot- projects for adjacent areas, streetscapes and pedestrianized connectivity with Al Khor Downtown and Mall.
Read the full studio brief here (pdf)