Head for Heights

Doha City

Middle East Architect speaks to tall building experts to get on top of Doha’s ever-changing skyline

With its neat cluster of iconic towers reflecting in the calm water of the Gulf, Doha’s high rise skyline is one of the most striking features of the city.

Yet the cranes are a reminder that this panorama is far from static. Like many cities around the world, Doha is the middle of a tall building boom.

The epicentre of tall building activity is the West Bay area by the waterfront corniche, which contains seven of the city’s ten tallest completed structures. Quite remarkably, the skyline has changed beyond recognition since the seemingly recent mid-Noughties.

Philip Oldfield, lecturer in Sustainable Tall Buildings at the University of Nottingham, UK, elaborates on the dramatic change in the skyline.

“Only one of the current 10 tallest buildings was completed before 2006, so the other nine were completed in the last five years,” he comments.

Yet Oldfield is quick to point out that this is a global trend. “More tall buildings were completed in the first decade of the 21st century than in the whole of the 20th century.

“It’s fair to say that we’re in a golden age of tall building construction, in spite of the financial crisis. There has been a massive rise in the number of tall buildings thanks to advances in modern structural engineering, and the dramatic forms that are apparent in places like Qatar will continue to appear in the future,” he adds.

He believes that the skyline could be very different by the time of the World Cup in 2022. “There are several towers under construction in Doha that are over 200 metres and many are at the proposal stage.

“I would not be surprised to see a big change in the Doha skyline by the time of the World Cup. This could be a combination of towers that are currently proposed as well as brand new ones.

“After all, 11 years is plenty of time to design and build a tower from scratch. But it’s difficult to predict what will happen.”

William Maibusch, Qatar representative for the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), agrees that the skyline will see further transformation.

“Yes, it will continue to develop, just like it has been rapidly developing over the past six or seven years. There is a lot of growth and opportunity for development in Qatar.

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