The Valley City - Qatar City by MZ Architects

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DESIGN DETAILS
DESIGN NAME:
The Valley City - Qatar

PRIMARY FUNCTION:
City

INSPIRATION:
Unlike the current trend of futuristic high-tech city projects, the VCQ retrieves its architectural guidelines from the traditional Qatari and Islamic cities, trying to recapture their urban fabric.

UNIQUE PROPERTIES / PROJECT DESCRIPTION:
The master plan of the Valley City – Qatar (VCQ) emerged from an in-depth understanding of the existing urban morphology and social structure of Qatari cities, responding to the growing demand for affordable small-size rental accommodation, while respecting architectural guidelines of traditional Qatari and Islamic cities. Traditionally, Islamic cities were characterized by a chaotic urban morphology as a result of Islamic laws of succession. Properties were subject to successive subdivisions until minimum but functional parts were arrived at: the basic ‘workable’ nucleus unit. Successive iterations of subdivision over the course of decades gave a fractal character to these cities. When taken over a long period of time span – time of development of a city –, this simple function produced at later stages a complex morphology as is know in Chaos Theory. The VCQ recaptures the simplicity of this original urban fabric by using Chaos Theory as foundation and mathematical tool, and working with a system that creates a series of well defined spaces or “urban fingers” running parallel to each other and creating maximum interface between public and private spaces by maximizing their line of exposure. The proposed urban grid is built perpendicular to the hot desert wind trajectory, allowing the wind to hit the city and initiate a circulating movement throughout the urban structure in a sequence of chaotic curves following the Heighway dragon curve. The path generated by the wind turbulences leads to the development of a linear city with a catalytic green valley crossing it between the residential fingers, thus creating a strong sense of place for the community and allowing for a healthy and climate friendly pedestrian realm. The resulting urban plan allows for expansion of the city with equal opportunities towards the desert and the sea, thus maximizing growth possibilities. Established with sustainable and green standards, the VCQ master plan maximizes the use of natural elements such as wind, water and sun, and minimizes financial building costs, while offering all the benefits of an energy saving city throughout its design and building material. Located on a 3 million-sqm plot in the heart of the desert, between historic cities of Doha and Al Khor, the VCQ is envisioned as a modern low-cost city designed to attract middle-income Qatari citizens as well as the growing population of expatriates and their families, in an environment where work, leisure and residence are strongly bound.

OPERATION / FLOW / INTERACTION:
The VCQ could further develop towards the desert from one side and towards the sea from the other side, creating a marina as well as a commercial harbor. A water transport service could also be envisioned from the VCQ harbor to the center of Doha and eventually to Doha airport. The VCQ harbor would then be linked to the proposed public transport lanes that serve the different neighborhoods within the city.

PROJECT DURATION AND LOCATION:
This project is still at the concept stage. The 1st phase of construction is expected to be launched in 2014. It is located in Qatar, between the historic cities of Doha and Al Khor. The Valley City – Qatar has won the “Masterplanning Award” at the 2013 MIPIM Architectural Review Future Project Awards.

PRODUCTION / REALIZATION TECHNOLOGY:
Rooted in the traditional Qatari architecture from which it retrieves its architectural guidelines, and developed using Chaos Theory as foundation and mathematical tool, the VCQ tries to recapture the simplicity of the original local urban fabric of traditional Qatari cities by working with a system that creates a series of well defined spaces or “urban fingers” running parallel to each other and creating maximum interface between public and private spaces by maximizing their line of exposure. These fingers all connect to a common open space, a green heart that runs the length of the project and that finds its way between the residential fingers and into ones home. It creates a strong sense of place for the community and allows for a healthy and climate friendly pedestrian realm, an oasis for the community. The proposed urban grid is built perpendicular to the hot desert wind trajectory, allowing the wind to hit the city & initiate a circulating movement throughout the urban structure in a sequence of chaotic curves obeying the Heighway dragon curve law. The path generated by the wind turbulences leads to the development of a linear city with a green valley crossing it. As the catalytic core of the city, the long open space and valley area incorporates all vital public spaces of the city, ranging from central piazzas with street greenery, leisure and culture areas, sports facilities, commercial zones, open-air markets, green parks as well as public transportation stations. It helps create a healthy open space that is set within walking distance from all the residential neighborhoods with extensive car-free shaded pedestrian areas creating a socially integrated lifestyle throughout the hot and cold seasons. The emphasis on the great public space not only gives a sense of place to the city but also helps raise both the economic and environmental value of the whole development site. The residential approach of the city creates independent neighborhoods on both sides of the main valley, served by a peripheral road that connects them to each other and to the main highway to Doha.

SPECIFICATIONS / TECHNICAL PROPERTIES:
Established with sustainable and green standards, the VCQ master plan takes full advantage of the city’s potential, local climate & site orientation, maximizes the use of the natural elements of wind, water and sun, and minimizes the financial building costs. The city offers all the benefits of an energy saving city throughout its design and building material: green transport system; water treatment plant; narrow roads providing shading and lessening the effect of hot daytime sun; green roofs protecting buildings from direct sun; sunroof panels; strategically oriented streets and public spaces; maximum usage of windows for fresh air; heavy reliance on solar panels, etc. Xeriscapes and low water consumption landscapes shall beautify the city while the ease of pedestrian circulation and usage shall make sure its inhabitants bring it to life. The design thus enhances the feeling of the well-being in the city and creates its microclimates.

TAGS:
Masterplan, Chaos Theory, Wind turbulence, Sustainability, Low-cost city

RESEARCH ABSTRACT:
Vernacular Architecture and Chaos Theory: The development of Qatari vernacular architecture started with mono-cellular housing structures that responded over time to the growth of families and their related interests and, as such, grew in a progressive but unstructured manner as the relationships grew and changed. The house, adjoined to other neighboring houses thus created an agglomeration, that when repeated, formed the City. In appearance, the plan of these traditional Qatari cities looks irregular and chaotic, similarly to most Arab cities, as one can observe irregularity in their geometry and urban fabric, with absence of straight lines, tight development with narrow alleyways separating the residential units, chaotically interconnecting buildings and encroachments on public spaces. However, this chaos becomes more structured once one enters the city in depth and reaches the basic units, the mono-cellular houses. A phenomenon recalling the Bifurcation Diagram in Chaos Theory. Analysis shows that this chaotic urban morphology is the result of the Islamic laws of succession and their mechanisms of subdivision. Properties were subdivided according to a refined and elaborate system of shares prescribed by Islamic jurists. Most property was subject to successive subdivisions until minimum but functional parts were arrived at: the basic ‘workable’ nucleus unit, the one room space. Successive iterations of subdivision over the course of decades gave a fractal character to the cities and thus became the main source of their complexity and chaos. When taken over a long period of time span – time of development of a city –, this initial simple function consequently produces at later stages a complex morphology as is know in Chaos Theory. The VCQ’s architecture is one that recounts the idea of agglomeration by creating blocks that come together and provide a variety of unit sizes, shapes and relationships. While their layout, at first, seems to be more structured than that of the traditional city, their repetition and the way they come together highlights the idea of a strongly bound community sharing public and private open spaces and a circulation network that crosses the units at different levels. Growth and expansion are important concepts for the city, and the urban plan of the VCQ allows for a simple expansion with equal opportunities towards the desert and towards the sea thus maximizing the possibilities of growth.

CHALLENGE:
Housing issues surfaced in Qatar mainly with the 2002 economical boom which led to a huge influx of expatriate workforce and a massive population growth. Available accommodation solutions were limited to high-priced large individual houses and a very small number of medium-size apartments located in family-oriented residential buildings. Smaller housing units were almost inexistent. This shortage in affordable small-size rental accommodation created an important problem for both expatriates with limited income who aimed at saving fair amounts of money, and young middle-income Qatari nationals seeking to live in a modern lifestyle. The main challenge of the VCQ was to cater for this growing population by focusing on low-cost construction and modern planning rather than following the current trend of futuristic high-tech city projects.

ADDED DATE:
2012-08-02 06:29:09

TEAM MEMBERS (2) :
SAK Holding Group and MZ Architects

IMAGE CREDITS:
MZ Architects, 2012.

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CLIENT/STUDIO/BRAND DETAILS
NAME:
SAK Holding

PROFILE:
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NOMINATION DETAILS

The Valley City-Qatar City by Mz Architects is a Nominee in Urban Planning and Urban Design Category.

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AWARD DETAILS

The Valley City-Qatar City by Mz Architects is Winner in Urban Planning and Urban Design Category, 2012 - 2013.



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