Historic Doha reimagined as place of learning

you&me Fatima&Alaa Carved City

A competition to design a heritage-led regeneration plan for a historic part of Doha has been won by UK-based you&me architecture.

Iris Papadatou and Alicja Borkowska were awarded $25,000 to develop their winning proposal for transforming two neighbourhoods of the Qatari capital which will then form the basis for a regeneration masterplan.

Their plans were honed in a week-long design residency in Doha during which they teamed up with local practices to explore regeneration ideas and designs.


“The ambition is to create a walkable, sustainable and ethical place, which projects the valuable architectural heritage and memory of the existing fabric,” said Borkowska.

The brief for the competition – The Old Doha Prize – stated: “How would you regenerate Doha’s old city centre – learning from and referencing the historic street pattern and built form, whilst investigating appropriate elements of contemporary Qatari design – to create a vibrant and economically sustainable piece of city designed on a human scale?”

Papadatou and Borkowska said the neighbourhoods of Al Asmakh and Al Najada in Old Doha were reimagined as places for learning using a wooden carving to illustrate the way streets and buildings would be laid out.

Papadatou said: “Varying education programmes are injected into the site, acting as attractors and catalysts for growth and regeneration on a local as well as a global scale.

“Inspiration is derived from the Qatari vernacular, the courtyard as a madrasa and social place of learning, implementing it on the ‘macro’ urban scale, as well as the ‘micro’ scale.

“Vacant plots are identified around the site and reclaimed as carved courtyards of educational activity, connected by a network of sikkahs – or routes – which also become educational and cultural social spaces.

“The existing urban fabric of the Old Doha is mostly retained but carved in order to enhance relationships and thresholds between public and private, old and new.”

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