The skyline of the gulf of Doha now includes an apparently massive cylindrical volume which on closer inspection is revealed to be a "delicate" lace façade: the Doha Tower designed by Jean Nouvel for Sheik Saud bin Mohammad Al Thani.
The mashrabiya is a typical element of Arabian architecture used for passive cooling of buildings and for decorative purposes. In the Doha Tower, Jean Nouvel reclaims this traditional element, bringing it back in a giant form that entirely covers the volume of the tower, as the outer part of the double skin façade protecting the inner façade of glass. The external skin is a huge filter protecting the building from the sun’s rays and from sandstorms. It consists of four different modules made of aluminium, with the geometric patterns characteristic of Arabian decoration, assembled in different ways on the basis of their orientation and requirements. In addition to practical functions, this structural lace creates unusual light effects and particular atmospheres inside the construction, which offers panoramic views over the gulf.
The entrance to the tower is a monumental foyer accessed via a sloping garden, partly covered by a glass awning, "light" elements which mediate the transition between nature and the man-made environment.
The building has been shortlisted for the 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
Design: Ateliers Jean Nouvel
Location: Doha, Qatar
Images courtesy of Aga Khan Award for Architecture, photo by AKAA / Cemal Emden