Development in Qatar has taken an original turn by placing significant emphasis on culture; the declared goal of this shift is to make Qatar, and Doha in particular, the cultural pole of the Gulf region. The National Council for Art, Culture and Heritage, under the chairmanship of H.E. Sheik Saud al-Thani, is planning a large scheme featuring cultural buildings, such as museums and libraries, in which pre-eminent architects and designers have been invited to participate. This redevelopment will reshape the bay of Doha beginning with a landscaping project for the Corniche and including a series of remarkable buildings that are destined to be symbolic landmarks along the coast. Located between the new city center and the Corniche on the north side of the bay, Jean Nouvel’s tower will take its place in this new landscape.
Jean Nouvel has long questioned the traditional, orthogonal, central-cored, curtain wall scheme for high rise buildings. Since his project for the Tour Sans Fin he has often explored the concept of a circular-plan tower with a peripheral structural system that allows for open, better-lit spaces with more control over interior lighting and abundant views onto the landscape.
This concept, currently being implemented in Barcelona’s Tour Agbar, finds a new elegance in Doha. The Doha Tower is a cylindrical volume that measures 45 m in diameter. It is crowned by a dome that ends with a light tower at 231.50 m. The steel and concrete structure follows a diamond shaped grid that bends along the virtual surface of the cylinder. The façade uses a double skin system. The exterior skin is composed of four “butterfly” aluminium elements of different scales and evokes the complexity of the oriental moucharabieh while serving as protection from the sun. The pattern varies according to the orientation and respective needs for solar protection: 25% towards the north, 40% towards the south, 60% on the east and west. The internal layer is a slightly reflective glass skin that completes the solar protection. Lastly, a system of roller-blinds can be used if needed. Each floor offers panoramic views of the Gulf on the east, the port to the south, the city to the west, and the coast and desert to the north.
The tower is accessed from a landscaped garden that gently slopes towards a large lobby under a canopy of glass. The vegetation and glass canopy overlap so as to blur the distinction between nature and the man-made environment. An atrium rises to the 27th floor, 112 m high. This slim, shimmering, silver laced silhouette on the horizon is certain to become a landmark — a beautiful symbol for the Corniche of Doha.