B+H Architects discuss inspiration behind new Doha Institute campus

The incubation of new ideas lies at the heart of innovation – whether it be an alternative approach to dealing with social and political issues or the invention of a high-tech sustainable vehicle.

A t this one million square feet campus, the Doha Institute (DI) and the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) grapple with large, complex, historical and present-day issues of the Arab World.

Within its almost rural setting, B+H’s goal was to design a development that functions as a modern-day  Madinat Qaryat, a town or village. Like any village, we clustered buildings to accommodate residences, leisure, events, worship, research studies and cultural exchange. Public spaces are carefully crafted through a tightly knitted grouping of 27 buildings.

During an era when a great deal of architecture strives to create new iconic signatures along city skylines, this campus positions itself as a memorable modern-day allegory for the villages and landscape of the ancient Arab culture. This contemporary symbol of the past is positioned as a game changer for those who attend the campus and those who participate in the regional research hub. The urban form, landscape, architecture and interiors were integrated to create a holistic design that embodies our client’s objectives.

The Academic Ethos of the Doha Institute
An atmosphere of institutional and intellectual freedom guided by scientific standards, the Doha Institute supports innovative scholarly research pertaining to issues that affect the Arab region. Teaching and learning are integrated with research in a student-centred environment that seeks knowledge through searching, dialogue and discovery.

Inspired by the Past
In recent years, architects and urbanists have talked of New Urbanism, which focuses on creating urban centres within suburban contexts. The principles of New Urbanism focus on the creation of experiences through spaces where people are invited to congregate, hangout and ultimately identify as the heart of their community. Within these spaces, the car is subverted and pedestrians reign supreme.

In tackling the design of this project, we sought to create an incubator for those moments of serendipity where people have many opportunities to interact with one another, whether it be on the tennis court after a game, at the coffee shop, on a stair landing, at library reading desks, in a lounge area, sharing
a meal together, or in a pre-function space of a lecture theatre. It is in these moments of engagement and interaction that new innovative, stimulating and alternative paradigms of thought very often take place.

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