Qatar calls for British Architects
The British Council and Qatar Museums Authority (QMA), on behalf of Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture, are inviting UK architects to be part of Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture by entering the Old Doha Prize, a week long design residency and competition in Doha from 17-24 November 2013.
The Old Doha Prize is organised in association with the Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA) and The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL in the UK, as well as the Doha Architecture Centre and Msheireb Properties in Qatar.
The Prize offers UK architects the unique opportunity to collaborate with their Qatari counterparts; five teams will research and explore new ways to address the changing urban landscape of Old Doha. They will share approaches, skills and creative ideas to explore the process of regeneration and potential for incorporating the heritage and history of the area into their designs.
The winning team will be awarded the Old Doha Prize and a grant of £15,000. The grant will provide the team with the opportunity and resource to implement ideas explored as part of the design residency. This might include the implementation of the project in the form of an exhibition, research project, publication, installation, public intervention or film.
The Old Doha Prize will encourage architects to develop compelling and contemporary ideas in response to Doha’s historic city centre. The brief will focus specifically on the neighbourhoods of Al Asmakh and Najada in the heart of Old Doha, and will be founded on the principle of ‘Living Heritage’. This is the idea that heritage is not something set in history; rather something that continually evolves whilst remaining deeply rooted in the past.
Angela Brady, RIBA Presidentcommented “The Old Doha Prize provides UK and Qatar based architects and designers a unique opportunity to work together in the spirit of collaboration, experimentation and international learning to help develop sustainable solutions for the long term regeneration of Old Doha. The rapid development and growth of Qatar coupled with its desire to embrace its ancient Islamic ties and incorporate its unique culture into its surroundings, making it a fascinating area for architecture.”
Tim Makower, Lead Facilitator for the Old Doha Prize and principal of Makower Architects in Doha and London says “The idea for the Old Doha Prize is the coming together of two things both of which are important for the future of architecture and urbanism in Qatar. First, it is the opportunity to raise awareness about the character-rich fabric of the old city which could become the foundation of a ‘Qatari Renaissance’. Second, it is a chance to celebrate and explore how young design talent from Qatar and the UK can work together, and push the boundaries of what it means to respond to the identity of a place and explore how ‘heritage’ can be a springboard into the future as well as being a deep root in the past.”
Graham Sheffield, spokesperson for Qatar UK 2013 says “The Old Doha Prize takes place as part of Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture which celebrates the long-standing relationship between the two countries. The programme aims to forge new and support existing partnerships in the arts, education, sport and science, while promoting an awareness and appreciation of each country’s culture, achievements and heritage. This Prize is exactly the kind of cultural exchange we want to promote as part of the Year.”
Aisha Ghanem Al Attiya, spokesperson for Qatar UK 2013 says “With this competition, we join one of the world’s largest design sectors with one of the world’s fastest growing and most ambitious, enriching architects and designers in both nations. While more and more people are taking notice of Doha’s breath taking modern skyline, they are also discovering that the heritage of art and design in Qatar reaches back many generations.”
How to apply
The ‘Old Doha Prize’ is open to architects with more than two years’ experience. Applicants must have the full support and endorsement of their architecture practice.
Interested architects should submit an Expression of Interest in the format of an A4 PDF portfolio no longer than 10 pages.
The submission must include the following mandatory information:
1. Up to five examples of key projects (realised or speculative) that you feel represent your approach.
2. CV of the architect(s) attending.
3. A short statement (in English or Arabic and a maximum of 500 words) that will briefly outline why you are applying to take part in the Old Doha Prize and your perspective on the issue of balancing cultural heritage with contemporary design and development.
Submissions should be in PDF format and not to exceed 2MB in size. These should be emailed to QatarUK2013_UK@britishcouncil.org by 4pm (GMT) on Thursday 30 August 2013 in the UK and 4pm (GMT) on Sunday 15 September 2013 in Qatar.
Old Doha is under-going significant regeneration and transformation, thanks to several powerful catalysts, including the construction of a new Metro, the Msheireb Project and the World Cup in 2022, making this an exciting time for British architects to be forging connections in Qatar. Msheireb Properties’ flagship regeneration project of the historical downtown of Doha, will alone see £3.65 billon in development invested in this area.
Architectural developments in Old Doha aspire to balance regeneration and development to ensure the history of the area is celebrated and maintained. A number of key British based companies including Arup and Allies and Morrison are already working on projects within the Msheireb Project, bringing their experience of working on world class regeneration projects such as the London 2012 Olympic Park to Qatar.
Qatar has the fastest growing and most stable economy in the Middle East and is using its financial strength to promote social development. Its population has doubled in the last four years and is predicted to double again by 2015. Through its National Vision for 2030, Qatar aims to be an advanced society capable of sustaining its development and providing a high standard of living for all of its people; incorporating long-term strategies for economic, social, human and environmental development. The Old Doha Prize hopes to encourage long lasting ties between British and Qatari architects and designers that will increase the skills of professionals in both countries.
For more information about eligibility and how to apply, please visit
Images credited to © Tim Makower